melbourne street

A $1 million grant and partnership with a registered housing provider will help the City of Melbourne’s Make Room project deliver supported accommodation for people experiencing homelessness.

​The project will see a $7.45 million Council-owned building at 602 Little Bourke Street converted into safe and supported housing.

Unison Housing will refurbish and manage the former electricity network building, which will include up to 50 studio apartments, communal living areas and a social enterprise for some of Melbourne’s most vulnerable people.

The City of Melbourne will also partner with the Victorian Government to deliver the bespoke accommodation, which will include housing and homelessness services, and tailored, wraparound support for residents to assist with their wellbeing and transition to long-term housing.

The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation has provided a $1 million grant towards the $20 million project, and discussions with other potential donors, supporters and partners are continuing.

The project will create more than 70 jobs in construction, and dozens of ongoing roles when the accommodation is open.

Works are scheduled to begin early 2022, with accommodation and services open by mid-2023.

City of Melbourne Lord Mayor, Sally Capp, said, “We’ve reached an important milestone for this project today, and we’re thrilled to be working with Unison and the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation in delivering this important work.

“Through the Make Room initiative, we’re stepping up to provide support to some of Melbourne’s most vulnerable people, and creating a new pathway out of homelessness.”

Health, Wellbeing and Belonging portfolio lead Councillor, Dr Olivia Ball, said, “In the City of Melbourne alone, around 300 people are experiencing homelessness, including up to 90 people sleeping rough, without a roof over their head.

“Housing is a human right, but there simply isn’t enough public, social and affordable housing in Melbourne.

“If we don’t act now, 60,000 people could be without safe housing in Victoria by 2040, which is why it’s critical we take the lead in delivering this supported accommodation now.”

Unison Housing CEO, James King, said, “We’re excited to be part of this exciting project, which will reduce disadvantage and social exclusion, and deliver benefits to the entire community.

“When people find safe accommodation, they require less healthcare, are less likely to be victims or perpetrators of crime and are more likely to go back to study or find employment. 

“We want to give those sleeping rough the helping hand they need to get their lives back on track.”

Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation CEO, Dr Catherine Brown, said, “The Make Room project is part of our Affordable Housing Challenge Initiative, which is demonstrating that cross sector partnerships between philanthropy, local government, state government and not-for-profits can have great outcomes.

“We are pleased to be the philanthropic partner in the Make Room development and partnering with City of Melbourne and funding Unison Housing to provide the safe and secure housing needed to prevent homelessness.”

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