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Making room for Melburnians in need

20 May 2024

The City of Melbourne is doing its part to help break the cycle of homelessness as its landmark Make Room project approaches completion.

Make Room is a unique partnership that will give our most vulnerable community members a safe and secure roof over their head and access to life-changing support services.

This week, Council alongside Unison Housing unveiled the first completed studio ahead of the project’s official opening in the coming months.

These announcements come as the philanthropic sector continues to show support for the initiative, with Helen Macpherson Smith Trust pledging an additional $500,000 to the project – bringing their donated total to $720,000.

Council has raised more than $16.1 million for the $24.9 million project, following funding commitments from the Victorian Government and a range of leading philanthropic and corporate partners.

The Victorian Government has also committed $4.8 million over two years for on-support and specialised tenancy management.

Make Room is transforming a Council-owned building at 602 Little Bourke Street into 50 studio apartments. The design and service model were co-designed by people with lived experience of homelessness to support the diverse needs of its future residents.

Registered housing provider, Unison Housing, is delivering the project, with builder Harris HMC on track to complete works by August 2024.

Cohealth has been confirmed as the on-site provider offering on-site wraparound social and health support services – including mental health, housing, and legal supports, as well as dental, women’s health, and podiatry.

Individuals and organisations are encouraged to pledge their support for Make Room through the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.

Quotes attributable to Lord Mayor Sally Capp

“I’m so proud that Make Room is almost ready to open its doors. This project will change and save people’s lives.”

“Everyone deserves access to safe, secure housing and support services – and we’re doing everything we can to help break the cycle of homelessness.”

“I want to sincerely thank the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust. It’s inspiring to see the philanthropic sector continue to see the value of investing in Make Room and helping those who need it most.”

Quotes attributable to Health, Wellbeing and Belonging portfolio lead Councillor Dr Olivia Ball

“We’re doing what we can during this housing affordability crisis because everyone deserves a safe place to call home. Make Room will set a new standard for transitional supported accommodation in Victoria.”

“cohealth does vital work every day to improve the lives of people in the City of Melbourne, and I’m delighted we’ll expand our partnership to support residents on-site at Make Room.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Housing Harriet Shing

“Partnerships like this are making sure that state government funding investments can go even further – they also highlight the importance of collaboration when it comes to tackling homelessness.”

“Make Room will genuinely change the lives of some of Melbourne’s most vulnerable people, because everyone deserves safe and secure housing. “

Quotes attributable to Helen Macpherson Smith Trust CEO Debra Morgan

“The City of Melbourne and Unison Housing have demonstrated leadership and compassion in their approach to addressing homelessness in our city. Helen Macpherson Smith Trust is pleased to support this partnership, which will provide not only housing, but sustained support to our most vulnerable community members.”

“I’m excited to see this project near completion, and the opportunity it will bring to people’s lives now and for decades to come.”

Quotes attributable to Unison Housing CEO James King

“The current housing crisis demands collective action to create meaningful change. Make Room exemplifies the power of collaboration between a community housing organisation, local and state government, philanthropic organisations, and the private sector.”

“Our partnership with cohealth ensures that Make Room goes beyond providing shelter, guiding our city’s most vulnerable toward secure long-term housing and a brighter future.”

Quotes attributable to cohealth CEO Nicole Bartholomeusz

“By coupling housing with essential wraparound health services, we’re not just addressing homelessness – we’re transforming lives.”

“As well as a roof and four walls, people who are homeless need support to address the ravaging health
impacts of long-term homelessness.”

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