12 ways we’re helping people experienc­ing homeless­ness

A person sitting on the steps of a building

Homelessness is a complex and confronting issue that can affect anyone at any point in their lives.

The pandemic, and increases in the cost of the living, have made many people even more vulnerable. COVID-19 has also seen local demand for food relief increase by almost 50 per cent.

These issues are priorities for our city.

Here are some of the ways we’re delivering services, creating accommodation and collaborating across the sector to assist people experiencing homelessness, housing insecurity and food insecurity.

Flagship project

1. Make Room

We’re stepping up to address homelessness by working in partnership with the Victorian Government, Unison Housing and the philanthropic and corporate sectors. The $20 million Make Room development will deliver 50 studio apartments, break-out areas, housing and homelessness services and other support for residents, as they transition into social and affordable housing. Find out how to support this project.

A group of people in an empty building

Lisa Townsend, Lord Mayor Sally Capp, Luis Irenio, Cr Olivia Ball and Cr Jamal Hakim at the Make Room launch

Collaboration and partnership

2. Service coordination

We convene the Melbourne Service Coordination Project, which brings together Homes Victoria and 14 partner agencies to provide a direct tailored response for people sleeping rough. This helps provide appropriate wrap-around support for people of different ages, cultural backgrounds and health needs.

3. Holistic health services

We partner with cohealth to enable the delivery of person-centred, multidisciplinary health services for people experiencing homelessness in the CBD. Underpinned by a human rights framework and trauma-informed practice, the Central City Community Health Service is well-placed to coordinate with other health, welfare and housing services. Its model is unique in Victoria.

4. Support for young people

We partner with Frontyard Youth Services to deliver services for young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Located at 19 King Street, the service helps young people find housing, get quality case management, and access a range of co-located services. It also has 17 supported crisis accommodation units on site.

To people walking away from the camera

Homelessness can affect people of all ages

5. Night-time outreach

We partner with the Salvation Army’s Project 614 to deliver overnight outreach services to people experiencing homelessness and sleeping rough in the City of Melbourne. The service operates between 11pm and 7am every night of the year.

6. Funding for support services

We provide a range of grants to help leading organisations and community groups deliver support services. For example, we recently funded Vinnies to provide meals for people in need, and work experience for people experiencing homelessness through our Connected Communities Grants.

Resources and practical support

7. Online reporting and Daily Support Team

Our online reporting system is the best way for people to report their concerns about someone experiencing homelessness in the city. Our specialist Daily Support Team, provided by Launch Housing, will follow up promptly and provide support and referrals to further services that coordinate housing and health intervention.

8. Support in our libraries, parks and gardens

Public libraries are some of the only indoor spaces where people can seek shelter and access technology. Our dedicated library social worker is on hand amid the shelves to connect people experiencing in need to practical support and services. The USA began embedding social workers in libraries 10 years ago and the model is growing in popularity globally. The City of Melbourne was the first Australian location to get on board.

Other council staff – like park rangers and local law enforcement officers – also support people experiencing homelessness in our parks, gardens and streets by connecting them with services and resources.

Erin McKeegan

Our library social worker Erin McKeegan

9. Extreme weather program

When it is very hot or cold, we help people experiencing homelessness escape the elements. During summer, we provide access to our recreation centres and pools, as well as cinema tickets, sunscreen and water bottles.

10. Helping Out service directory

Every year we update a handy guide to all the services available in the City of Melbourne and surrounding suburbs for people experiencing homelessness. The Helping Out booklet is available in print and online.

11. Community Food Guide

Our Community Food Guide lists services and businesses that provide low-cost and free food in the municipality. We update the guide regularly to ensure information is as up-to-date as possible. In August we also launched a new interactive digital Community Food Map to make the information more accessible.

A bag of vegetables

Find fresh and affordable food with our guide

12. Connect Respect training

We provide tailored Connect Respect training for local businesses to help staff and managers learn how to support people experiencing homelessness. This helps people have the confidence and knowledge to respond in an inclusive and respectful way.

How you can help

Many caring Melburnians want to support people in need in their neighbourhood.

Here are some practical ways you can help people find pathways out of homelessness.

• Donate to Make Room

Make a tax-deductible donation to support Make Room to create 50 studio apartments with wraparound support services for people sleeping rough.

• Become a volunteer

Volunteer your time, skills and compassion with an established not-for-profit, listed on the Volunteering Victoria website.

• Report your concerns

Let us know if you are concerned about someone experience homelessness through our online reporting system, and our Daily Support Team will follow up promptly.

• Put your property to good use

Make a donation from the sale of your home to increase the supply of affordable dwellings through the Homes for Homes program, or rent out your investment property at a discounted rate to people in need through HomeGround Real Estate. Both options are tax deductible.

• Stay in touch

Sign up to stay informed about what we’re doing to support people experiencing homelessness, and how you can help.

To find out more, visit Homelessness. More information about homelessness and its causes is also available on the Council to Homeless Persons website.

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