Vic govt invests in boarding house project

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THE Victorian government will put $3.7 million towards the redevelopment and operating costs of a rooming house in Melbourne’s bayside suburb of St Kilda.

Port Phillip City Council is partnering with low income housing program St Kilda Community Housing to demolish an existing rooming house and build a three-level building with 26 self-contained units, with space for support services and a concierge.

The new project will use the Housing First approach, which is designed to address the needs of people who have been sleeping rough, according to Victorian Minister for Housing Danny Pearson. Once people experiencing homelessness have moved into one of the new units, support workers will address complex needs through services such as drug and alcohol counselling, mental health treatment and health care.

The St Kilda project is due for completion by mid-next year.

A 14-bedroom heritage-listed mansion in the suburb operated as a boarding house by homelessness services non-profit Launch Housing was to be sold this spring after running at a financial loss due to maintenance costs. Launch Housing expected more than $4.3 million from a sale of 7 Princes Street, which would see the eviction of 11 long-term residents.

The state government is working with councils to support people at risk of or experiencing homelessness as part of the Inner Melbourne Metropolitan Partnership. On the other side of town, the $40 million development of the Audrey Rainsford site, funded through the Victorian government’s $5.3 billion Big Housing Build social and affordable housing program, is now up and running under the partnership program. Specialist community housing and support agency Wintringham operates the site, with a focus on housing Victorians over the age of 50, with at least half of the new homes to go to women.

The government is also investing $9 million towards a Melbourne City Council project to repurpose a council-owned building into supported accommodation for up to 50 residents.

“These new projects are not just giving people a place to call home, they are helping resolve the complex problems that lead to homelessness in an environment where they can heal and rebuild their lives,” Pearson said.

“Breaking the cycle of homelessness for every Victorian sleeping rough by providing a roof over their heads, with the wrap-around services they need, is a great result for the community.

The Victorian government last week said it had hit the halfway mark of the Big Housing Build program. More than 6,300 homes have been completed or are underway, with more than $2.8 billion of investment funds put into new homes. This is the largest single investment in social and affordable housing by any state or territory government in Australia’s history.

The government is on track to deliver at least 16,000 social and affordable homes by 2026.

The number of households on Victoria’s social housing waitlist grew by more than 4,000 over the year to March, 54,945. About than 30,500 of those are on the priority access list. According to the Victorian Public Tenants Association, that waitlist represents over 110,000 people in need of a home.

There is $75 million in this year’s state budget going towards changing the homelessness service system to deliver tailored support alongside permanent housing.

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