Some local residents of Brighton East have raised objection to the development of homeless accommodation in their suburb, out of fears that it would lead to an influx of “junkies” and “ex-crims”
A story, that ran in the Herald Sun, quotes a local as saying “I have five grandkids who play outside … if this plan goes ahead I won’t be allowing them out to play near drug or alcohol-affected people.”
The development of the homeless accommodation is part of the Towards Home program, a program designed to increase access to housing for rough-sleepers.
The Council to Homeless Persons believes this stereotyping of rough sleepers is misguided, and is of the view that as a community we need to be embracing these projects, not protesting against them,
Using vacant Government-owned land to build houses for those with no home makes sense. Making sure that land is located near transport, support services and jobs is a no-brainer. Wrapping intensive support around some housing to prevent vulnerable tenants falling back into homelessness, is the perfect formula for ending homelessness.
The five sites across Melbourne being used in the Victorian Government’s Towards Home program tick all these boxes, and replicate the successful ‘supportive housing’ models that have drastically reduce homelessness in parts of Canada and the United States.
With 35,000 people on the waiting list for public housing in Victoria, we must seize every opportunity to create more housing that people can afford and peppering this housing across well-located areas, and teaming it with support, is good social policy.
Warehousing the homeless on the outskirts of Melbourne does not solve homelessness, it simply tries to hide it from public view, and pushes the most vulnerable into areas with the least ability to support them with jobs and services.
The women and men sleeping rough in Melbourne are unarguably our most vulnerable citziens – women and men experiencing poverty, fleeing family violence, recovering from trauma and abuse, battling mental illness. They deserve a home from which they can start to regain control of their lives. They deserve our respect, and they deserve our compassion.
In a recent article in The Guardian, writer and editor David West, who has experienced homelessness, wrote, “Given a little assistance I feel that I could still have a future where I could contribute, but without somewhere to live there are too many rungs missing from the ladder and I am left to peer in through the window from out here.”