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How would you feel if — homeless and at your lowest ebb — the room you’re offered is bare, its mattress heavily stained, the stove broken, the fridge constantly leaking, the bathroom disgusting, with drug dealers dropping around to collect money from your housemates?
That’s the situation Maree* found herself in at the age of 58, in a room of a privately owned share house in Melbourne’s north.
Four years on, the memory alone makes this cheerful woman tremble.
“It was like you were no-one or nothing. It was like the end of the world, those places,” she says.
For the privilege of staying at the rooming house, she paid $220 a week.