Homelessness in Port Phillip

The solution is to provide safe and secure housing where the required professional support staff are on site 24/7 to oversee both the pressing and immediate housing crisis, and also to identify and address the wider health issues behind the housing crisis.


“Don’t make eye contact! If I do, I will only be establishing a relationship, And what can I do anyway? It’s Saturday morning and it’s been a busy week. Besides, I don't even carry coins any more. Sorry."

Isn’t that close to our internal monologue ? What we more or less stick to, but also pricked by the thought  - we could do better.

Is it possible that in that collective “we”, there is a solution to the problem. A solution that brings together community obligation, compassion and self interest. A line behind which we can all stand together.

Homelessness, it must be clear to all by now, is not just an issue for the “bleeding hearts”. It crosses the political divide and its impacts spill out into our streets, parks, shop fronts.

And we know too the problem is complex involving mental and physical health issues, family breakdown, addictions, domestic violence. We also know it can’t be solved by employing private security guards to control behaviour. Our city is not a simulacrum of Coles.  Thankfully, we’ve progressed beyond that.

So what is the solution ?

The solution is to provide safe and secure housing where the required professional support staff are on site 24/7 to oversee both the pressing and immediate housing crisis, and also to identify and address the wider health issues behind the housing crisis.

It’s not rocket science.

The State Government has repurposed and supported four unused facilities in inner Melbourne to provide health care and supported accommodation. It has committed $500m for social housing both as a response to the Covid-19 health crisis and as stimulus money.

But the housing crisis is much deeper and bigger than these steps, especially in many parts of Port Phillip where people are losing jobs and hours and incomes and facing housing stress.

The good news is that we can be part of the solution – and we have the means to do so.

The City of Port Phillip has a history of working with state and federal governments and other bodies to resolve housing affordability in Port Phillip.

It has partnered with local social housing associations over many years to build new homes for long term local residents affected by rising rents and reduced rental accommodation.

These existing social housing organisations have the expertise and the preparedness and commitment to manage such projects.  And the really good news is that Council has money set aside from past budgets for housing. The proposed solution does not immediately involve any cost to ratepayers.

We’re all in this together

Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, a thorough count of rough sleepers totalled 90-100 people*. Steps to mitigate the health risk during the pandemic have been a good temporary move, they are not the answer.

The problem is not going away. But the opportunity to do something now may politically lapse without the will and support of a newly elected council.  

So far, we have blessedly dodged the worst consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been a revelation. Together government, communities, workplaces have joined together in a shared and collective effort. We have shown what “we” can do.

City of Port Phillip Street Count conducted by Launch Housing in 2018