Women over 55 currently sleeping rough or in severe housing stress will be able to seek shelter in new pop-up accommodation in Melbourne’s City of Port Phillip.
A 55-room aged care facility known as Claremont Home, operated by CaSPA Care, is currently vacant awaiting master planning for redevelopment. The goal is to use the building in the interim to provide housing for women, with the project hoping to be up and running before Christmas, and sign-off expected in coming weeks.
Property developer and former manager of Frasers Property Australia Robert Pradolin said while not a solution to homelessness, existing infrastructure could be repurposed for short-term use as crisis or transitional accommodation for those who need it.
“Some shelter for two years is better than nothing,” Mr Pradolin told The Fifth Estate.
“Ideally, they should go to permanent housing, but realistically we don’t have it.”
The property will be subject to a lease with a not-for-profit organisation who will manage the building until the owner requests it back to begin the redevelopment process.
CaSPA Care is making the property available for one year with two six-month options at their discretion at a peppercorn rent of $1 a year.
Mr Pradolin said pop-up shelters were in the country’s long-term economic interest.
“The cost to society for not providing shelter is billions in welfare help,” he said.
“Therefore, let’s make the investment decision.”
The development will provide:
- two room furnished suites with ensuite and laundry facilities in walking distance from Albert Park lake, the aquatic centre, public transport, shops and other services
- in-room microwave, fridge, television
- shared kitchen and dining facilities
- communal areas and gardens
- on-site concierge and support
Property upgrade costs are estimated to be $250,000 but design and minor refurbishment work are planned to be provided on a pro-bono basis, with additional contributions.
The YWCA will provide a team of women tradies – unemployed women who have gained trade qualifications – to perform the improvement works.
Mr Pradolin said Crowne Plaza Melbourne was about to refurbish when CaSPA got in touch with them. Now all of their furniture will be donated to the Claremont Home.
“it’s funny how serendipity works,” he said.
Another organisation called Silver Chef, which funds hospitality equipment, will provide the home with kitchen supplies as well.
The government must be on board
Although pop-up shelters do not solve the housing crisis, it does provide an innovative, short-term solution to a significant issue facing society, CaSPA Care said.
Mr Pradolin said he hopes the concept gets national publicity, but the federal government must be on board to make national housing strategies that will put this idea to work.
“It’s a mind-set change,” Mr Pradolin said.
“I would love to have architects think about how these building can be used for community uses.”
Property owners fear negative repercussions
However, property owners are concerned with negative public relations headlines when they eventually have to kick people out of their homes, which Mr Pradolin said was a very valid concern.
This could affect the property owner’s branding, which in turn he said “stops them from doing things that make sense”.