LOW BLOW: Toko is confined to a wheelchair, has osteoporosis and has been homeless for two months. We caught up with Toko where
LOW BLOW: Toko is confined to a wheelchair, has osteoporosis and has been homeless for two months. We caught up with Toko where

How low can life get?

By SAMANTHA TURNBULL

STEALING a wheelchair from a% disabled man is a low enough act.

Stealing a wheelchair from a homeless, disabled man is as low as it gets.

'Toko', 42, has osteoporosis and has lived in a tent in a Lismore park for the past two months.

A fortnight ago he unzipped his door to find his wheelchair had been taken.

"I've been ripped off a lot here," he said.

"I can't do anything about it. I just have to sit here waiting for the police to arrive."

Luckily, Toko had a second wheelchair in storage so has not been left completely immobile. He now locks it up like a bike when he goes to sleep.

However, he says it's not easy for someone with his health problems to be without a proper shelter.

"You feel unsafe and you worry," he said.

"The cold weather and the rain make it harder.

"It also takes a long time to get anywhere. "It takes me more than 45 minutes to get to the soup kitchen for food."

Toko said he ended up homeless after being evicted from a property as a result of a domestic dispute.

He, like most other homeless% people in Lismore, is on a waiting% list with the Department of Housing.

"I should be in the tent for about another month while they find me a place," he said.

"But if there was a shelter in% Lismore with disabled access I'd be there."

Another tent dweller, Brian McMahon, 38, said he would be the first person to sign up for a bed in a Lismore shelter. "People can't sleep out like this in the cold. They'll die of pneumonia," he said.

Brian claims he ended up homeless when he was evicted from a South Lismore boarding house for having a heater in his room.

He said he struggled to find a rental property because of his criminal record, lack of money and disability.

"I've got a brain injury so I'm a bit slow because I was hit over the head with a steel bar and was in a coma for a month and two days," he said.

"I've spent more than half my life in jail for violent offences, and I was in and out of boys' homes when I was a kid.

"Finding somewhere to rent is hard for most people in Lismore."



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