Tuesday, March 5, 2024

$1m donation to make room for Melbourne homeless

City of Melbourne Council says it is racing towards the funding target for its landmark Make Room initiative, announcing a $1 million philanthropic grant and launching a new fundraising campaign today.

Council says the Portland House Foundation will donate $1 million to the project, which will convert a Council-owned building at 602 Little Bourke Street into up to 50 studio apartments with on-site support services. 

“We’re proud to be partnering with the Victorian Government and our generous philanthropic and corporate partners to deliver Make Room – an initiative that will create a pathway to longer-term housing for so many of Melbourne’s most vulnerable people,” said Lord Mayor, Sally Capp.

“We’re incredibly grateful to the Portland House Foundation for their incredible contribution to this project – taking us another step closer to our $20 million funding target.

“We’re now more than three quarters of the way there, and are calling on Melburnians to give generously this Christmas to help us make this ambitious project a reality.” 

Council has now raised $15.5 million for the $20 million project, following a $9 million investment by the Victorian Government and a range of donations from generous philanthropic and corporate partners. 

The milestone coincides with the launch of the Good Giving campaign, which will this year support the development of a women’s floor in the Make Room building. 

The dedicated floor will offer a range of specialised services and support options, tailored to the diverse needs of women experiencing homelessness. 

“Make Room is about changing lives, and we’re so proud that this year’s Good Giving campaign will help women in need – giving them a safe space and the support they need,” said Health, Wellbeing and Belonging portfolio lead Councillor, Dr Olivia Ball. 

“We know that women experiencing homelessness often have a history of trauma, disadvantage and violence, and that’s why we’re taking the steps to address gender specific needs at Make Room.”  

Council says Make Room has already reached a number of milestones, including the signing of an agreement for lease with Unison Housing, the appointment of Harris HMC as the early works contractor and the completion of schematic designs. 

The building will feature five levels of studio apartments, a ground floor and basement with multi-use spaces and wrap-around services, and a rooftop garden with areas for quiet reflection and for residents to come together. 

“Portland House is proud to be contributing to the Make Room initiative. It is an inspiring plan and will provide great support for people who are desperately in need,” said Portland House Foundation Chair, Catherine Hains.

“The Make Room initiative closely aligns with our Foundation’s goals aimed at moving people out of disadvantage and supporting them in their journey to engage in work, education and community life.” 

Early works have commenced, with structural work to begin in June 2023. Council says Make Room is scheduled to open in mid-2024. It is being delivered by Homes Melbourne – a special entity of the City of Melbourne Council, created in earlier this year to increase safe, secure emergency housing in our city.  

The Good Giving campaign will run from 1 to 31 December. Donations can be made through the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation website

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