City of Melbourne’s Make Room project has begun construction, aiming to provide safe and secure housing for the communities most vulnerable members. 

Builder Harris HMC has been appointed to repurpose a Council-owned building located at 602 Little Bourke Street into transitional supported accommodation.

Registered housing provider Unison Housing will deliver 50 studio apartments, housing and homeless services and other wraparound support for those who need it most. Residents will stay for up to twelve months, or until they can find long-term secure housing.

Early works on site have been completed, stripping out all internal non-structural items including ceilings and partitions, and all existing services such as fire, electrical and hydraulic systems.

Each studio apartment will include a bedroom, kitchenette and ensuite bathroom, with ten units per floor across five levels. 

Make Room will include a rooftop garden, communal areas that bring residents together, as well as indigenous plants and artwork, with design and service models being informed through people with lived experience, and helping support the diverse needs of residents from different backgrounds. 

Make Room will offer care and support services on-site, with specialist health, housing and support staff located on site. A dedicated floor will also provide safe and secure accommodation for women experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The project at 602 Little Bourke Street is also the first to have creative hoardings installed. The artwork by John Patton includes images of traditional owners involved in the early civil rights movement in Australia.

Make Room is a unique partnership between the City of Melbourne, the Victorian Government, Unison Housing and the philanthropic and corporate sectors to address the critical needs of people experiencing rough sleeping and homelessness in the municipality.

Make Room is expected to be completed by mid-2024.

Lord Mayor, Sally Capp, said that all Melbourne citizens deserve to have a safe and secure place to call home, which is what the Make Room project aims to provide. 

“We’re setting a new standard for transitional supported accommodation in Victoria and showing how safe spaces with integrated support services can be created,” Ms Capp said. 

“Everyone benefits when we work together to help people out of homelessness. We’ve seen how people can take back control of their lives when they get the housing and support they need.

“Research shows that for every dollar invested in affordable housing, there is a $3 benefit to the community due to job security, better education, health cost savings, and lower rates of crime and family violence.”

Victorian Minister for Housing, Harriet Shing, said that homelessness is a complex issue, which the government will continue to tackle. 

“The Victorian Government will keep working hard with councils and local communities to determine the needs of people without any form of housing. This program is an important opportunity to make change that matters for people who need it most,” Ms Shing said. 

“Wraparound services play a hugely important role in addressing the causes of homelessness, and getting people into secure and dignified accommodation that meets their needs.”

Harris HMC Director, Andrew Headberry, said that the company is thrilled to be transforming the old building into a new transformative space. 

“This is such a positive project with tangible community benefits and showcases what can be achieved when government, housing providers and the private sector come together to tackle homelessness,” Mr Headberry said. 

“The significant progress we’ve achieved so far on site demonstrates the expertise and commitment of our dedicated team and all stakeholders. The power of strong partnerships and collaboration is on display on a daily basis as complex design, construction and logistics requirements are addressed in a top per cent fashion.”

“All the team at Harris HMC are excited by what’s to come, knowing that our efforts will leave a long-lasting positive impact on the best city in the world.”


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