Aussie city's ambitious plan to end rough sleeping
The City of Melbourne wants to help end rough sleeping on city streets by joining with the private sector and charities to create more than 300 crisis accommodation beds.
The strategy will see city buildings fitted out thanks to financial and in-kind donations from philanthropists and some of Australia's biggest businesses, including banks and construction companies.
The goal is to provide supported accommodation to get people off the streets and provide wraparound services to help them secure housing.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the number of rough sleepers was at odds with Melbourne's prosperous status.
"This is something that's growing and we know we must do more to stop it," she said.
"People want to help but they don't know what to do, and this gives people an opportunity to do something.
"We will use our collective skills to help people who are truly struggling."
Launch Housing CEO Bevan Warner said about 90 requests for assistance went unmet every day in Victoria.
"We urgently need more homes and more support for people who don't have a place to sleep tonight," he said.
Housing All Australians founder Robert Pradolin said his private sector philanthropic organisation aimed to "put the empty buildings in our city to use to provide people with a safe and secure place to live while they get their lives on track".
Mr Pradolin said firms pledging pro-bono support so far included Kane Construction, Cox Architects, Umow Lai, Irwin Consult, Bonacci, Gallagher Jeffs, du Chateau Chun, Levett Bucknell, Hollerich Town Planning, Lendlease and Norton Rose Fulbright.
Greg du Chateau, director of surveying firm du Château Chun, said he "hoped to make a difference to eliminate the large number of homeless seeking shelter in our cities".
The City of Melbourne will also join the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation to receive tax-deductible donations from corporates and individuals.
Other major supporters are The Salvation Army, VincentCare, Melbourne City Mission and Launch Housing.
The initiative will also involve neighbouring councils.
ABS data shows 116,000 people nationally are homeless, while the number of people without permanent homes in Melbourne has increased by 14 per cent in the past five years.