Port Phillip Council is leading a “common ground” approach to homelessness by supporting a “pop-up” facility, soon to open in St Kilda, and offering $4 million towards getting a permanent location off the ground.
The Common Ground housing model, already proven successful in Melbourne and overseas, features on-site support and services for those who have experienced long-term homelessness, for needs ranging from health and counselling to employment.
Mayor Bernadene Voss said Council is excited to see Port Phillip moving towards a Common Ground approach.
“Safe and appropriate housing is even more important as we work alongside the Victorian Government to find permanent accommodation for rough sleepers as they move from the much-needed temporary accommodation provided during the pandemic,” Cr Voss said.
“Some members of our community have been advocating for on-site support services to be provided where people with high needs are housed. This is at the very heart of the Common Ground pop-up which will have 24-hour onsite support for the 20 people living there. This is a gamechanger as we know this model provides better outcomes for those who need this assistance as well as improved amenity for the local community.”
The pop-up will operate for at least a year, possibly from October, at a former backpackers’ establishment on St Kilda Road. Council is funding the lease and some support services and a tender has opened for a service provider to manage the initiative. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is also contributing towards the wrap-around support services.
“The property is in good condition and we are looking forward to it serving as a temporary facility, as the owner has alternate plans for the building in the longer-term. So as this can only be a short-term solution, we are keen for a permanent facility in Port Phillip,” Cr Voss said.
To help achieve this, Council is offering $4 million in capital funding for a permanent Common Ground to be built on DHHS land at 28 Wellington Street, St Kilda. This is conditional on St Kilda Community Housing receiving additional funding from the Victorian Government.
The plan is for a 24-bedsitter unit facility to be operating by mid-2023. There would also be two consulting rooms for medical and support services, a reception desk, kitchen and communal and staff areas. St Kilda Community Housing is currently managing social housing on the site, which would be replaced.
If the proposal proceeds, St Kilda Community Housing will seek all necessary planning approvals and manage the new facility. Council would provide a nearby laneway for access and parking space.
Cr Voss said Council is eager to again partner with the Victorian Government and a local housing organisation to deliver much-needed housing.
“We have a proud history of supporting housing for those who need it most and are heartened by the interest the Victorian Government has shown in joining with us and St Kilda Community Housing to invest in this important initiative for our community.”