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  • Writer's pictureWorld Half Full

Tiny homes for the homeless


A housing project in Melbourne, Australia, is aiming to break rising homelessness in the city by building tiny homes on otherwise vacant government land. Independent community agency Launch Housing is behind the initiative, which aims to offer the homeless security and stability. Deborah has been homeless since her early teens. She told SBS News: "I've got my garden out the front and I've put stuff up all around the house and I've tried to make it look attractive and pretty. And I'm learning here how to be stable."

The houses are 20 square metres inside, with nine square metres out front and balconies out back. Each house sits on a plot of land 60 to 90 square metres. The tiny homes are factory produced and assembled on pockets of unused public land within existing communities. “It's a small community tethered to a larger community so we have six tiny homes on a big suburban block connected to neighbours,” said Launch Housing chief executive Bevan Warner. "We think it's a fantastic way to tackle chronic homelessness." The AU$9 million project has the Victorian government’s approval to build a total of 57 tiny homes for Melbourne’s homeless.

Warner urges other state governments to follow suit. "What we want is government to make land available to organisations like ours," he said. “[It will] ensure we can provide permanent housing solutions and pull people straight through from living on the streets, in cars, bypassing crisis accommodation and straight into a permanent housing solution, which we know is important in overcoming the problem."

Despite steady economic growth in Australia, homelessness increased by 14 percent between 2011 and 2016, with more than 116,000 people now thought to be sleeping rough. “The rise in rental stress, the loss of affordable rentals, people on low incomes, people who through no fault of their own face difficulties, are all vulnerable. They simply can’t find somewhere affordable to live and so they’re at risk of being forced into homelessness due to a dysfunctional housing market,” Warner told “We’ve shown that with a bit of ingenuity and a bit of support, we can deliver new dwellings in quick succession and at low cost.”

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