Tiny solution to huge problem

Launch Housing is urging governments at all levels to unlock underutilised land for housing to help reduce the increasing rate of homelessness.

To kick off Homelessness Week, the organisation has unveiled the first phase of its Harris Transportable Housing Project, in which 6 of 57 tiny homes have been built on VicRoads land in Melbourne’s inner west.

Launch Housing Chief Executive Officer Bevan Warner said the project demonstrates how unused government land can be repurposed to create safe, stable homes.

“Homelessness is increasing right across Australia. In Victoria alone, almost 25,000 people are without a home on any given night, and around 1,100 of them are sleeping rough,” Bevan said.

“Meanwhile, there’s around 195 hectares of government land sitting empty across Melbourne, which could host more than enough homes to end rough sleeping.

“If this land was unlocked, projects such as the Harris Transportable Housing Project could be scaled up to deliver housing solutions that the market wouldn’t otherwise provide.

“Tiny homes are part of the solution to homelessness. We want to work with people and organisations across all sectors to grow projects like this and rapidly build more homes for Victorians who urgently need them.”

The project is a partnership between Launch Housing and philanthropists Geoff and Brad Harris, of Harris Capital, with funding from the Victorian Property Fund.

It uses nine parcels of vacant VicRoads land in Footscray and Maidstone to create 57 tiny homes for people with a chronic experience of homelessness.

Tenant story: Deborah – watch her story here.

Deborah, along with her pet dog Zeus, says having a safe, stable home has drastically changed her life.

“I’ve been homeless since I was 13. I was always searching for somewhere that’s homey, where I can have a garden [and] a dog, where it’s safe,” Deborah said.

“If it wasn’t for the workers from Launch Housing who have come into my life, I wouldn’t be sitting here. I feel like someone took me from basically hell, and put me on this cloud of puffy niceness.

“I get to stay here for as long as I need to. It’s a really big gift [to have this home] and because it’s a gift, I want to take care of it.

“For the first time in a long time I feel like I’m in a stable environment… I can look at becoming a peer support worker, or working in women’s shelters. That’s my goal in life, to help people. This place gives me hope.”

Philanthropists Geoff and Brad Harris, of Harris Capital, contributed $4 million towards the $9 million project:

“We embarked on this project with Launch Housing after seeing a rise in people sleeping on the streets in Melbourne’s CBD. These homes are a great, long-term option to break that cycle for people who have been bounced around between short-term housing and homelessness. Having a place they can live for as long as they like means they can really start to rebuild their lives,” Brad said.

“As a wealthy country, the three basics we as Australians should be providing people are a basic education, basic healthcare and basic housing. We as a society need to come up with innovative ideas like this to help solve the growing issue of homelessness and stop people falling through the cracks,” Geoff said.