Media Coverage

How can the private sector help to eliminate homelessness?

Article by Housing All Australians, Founder and Director, Robert Pradolin

Housing All Australians is proud to have been the initial seed investor for the creation of this informative Australian documentary. The reception Under Cover is receiving is extremely encouraging as most of our population is not aware that women over 50 years of age are the fastest-growing cohort of homelessness in Australia. 

The tireless hours spent by Writer/Director Sue Thomson, and her team, in interviewing the women who have graciously shared their stories, has started to enlighten the Australian population of what they did not previously know about homelessness and how these women are someone’s mother, sister, or their daughter or one day, it could easily happen to them. 

We are also very honoured to have a small part in the film showing one of our initiatives which is about underutilised buildings that can be turned into short-term transitional housing to provide immediate housing for those in need. It also shows that the private sector is there and is willing to help vulnerable Australians.

The gravity and size of this issue is ($290 billion) too big for government to solve by itself. This is a community wide crisis and is impacting all demographics, especially those on low incomes and our key workers who cannot find accommodation close to where they provide services to society. 

We founded Housing All Australians (DGR1 charity) as the voice of the private sector. Business had been missing from the conversation, and if Australia is to create a new pathway for the future of our country, then business must be part of the solution. 

The delivery of social and affordable housing has been the remit of government, but government investment in housing our most vulnerable has fallen significantly and currently sits in a precarious state.

This will impact the way that Australian society evolves for future generations unless we decide, collectively, to do something about it. Doing nothing is not an option. We must change our current trajectory and reposition housing as fundamental infrastructure for a future prosperous Australia. 

The Australian Government Actuary estimates the investment required to address the chronic shortage of social and affordable housing is at least $290 billion, which equates to an additional 300,000 to 400,000 homes. Our population grew by more than 25 per cent between the 2001 and 2016 Census years, yet our stock of occupied social housing shrank by 2.5 per cent to now make up less than 4 per cent of all dwellings. In Australia, our construction industry builds around 200,000 homes per year in good times, with a mere 8000 social housing units. Under this trajectory, government can’t do it alone and it knows it.

Housing All Australians’ economic study, Give Me Shelter,  released earlier this year showed that unless we create the additional housing our country needs, future generations will pay an extra $25 billion per annum (in today’s dollars) by 2051 if nothing is done. This is something we all need to put our shoulder to the wheel and change the current trajectory, otherwise, we will be leaving our descendants with an intergeneration social and economic timebomb.

Housing All Australians has come up with several initiatives that help make a difference and start to drive change. 

Our “Pop Up” Shelters, like the Lakehouse, in Melbourne, provide temporary accommodation for vulnerable women by re-purposing vacant buildings awaiting redevelopment. The scheme takes advantage of the thousands of suitable empty buildings across Australia that can be re-purposed for short-term use as crisis or transitional housing. We bring the property owner and the community housing agency together and facilitate the donation of private-sector goods and services to renovate and fit out the home.

Since opening, Lakehouse has helped house over 107 women aged 55 and over in need of short-term accommodation. Through the support provided by YWCA Australia, over half of these women have been able to secure permanent public housing or private rentals. Wyn Carr House in Western Australia is another project underway and we have many more in the pipeline. (If you know of a vacant building – get in touch!)

Other private sector-led initiatives include projects such as Conscious Investment Management’s housing project, a $150 million investment funding the acquisition of up to 307 apartments for social and affordable housing tenants in a unique partnership with the Victorian Government and community housing association, HousingFirst. With government playing a key enabling role, this model unlocks institutional-scale private capital to generate new social and affordable housing stock.

These are just three examples of how the private sector can be involved by providing capital, housing delivery, and donation of goods and services.

At Housing All Australians, we only work with value-aligned businesses. So if you believe your organisation has values that align with our purpose, we would be pleased to hear from you. If every business did a “little bit” to help, collectively we can have a huge impact across Australia.