New homes for homeless

By Casey Neill

An extra 22 homes will soon be available for people living on Greater Dandenong’s streets.
On Monday 14 November, Dandenong MP Gabrielle Williams announced that the State Government would work with 10 organisations to acquire 16 and lease six properties in the municipality.
She said the project was part of the Rapid Housing Assistance Program.
“We are providing more support to ensure those in need have access to housing and targeted assistance to get back on their feet,” she said.
“We moved quickly to work with the housing sector to finalise our rapid housing program – and we will move quickly to get people in to homes.
“There are many factors that can drive homelessness – and this funding will ensure people get all the support they need.”
New CEO at Dandenong’s Cornerstone Contact Centre, Stephen Barrington, congratulated the State Government on the 22 new houses for Greater Dandenong, and the $109 million plan to respond to homelessness that the project is part of.
“We are dealing with people each day who are experiencing insecure and affordable housing, and these numbers are growing,” he said.
“Having access to safe and secure housing is one of the foundation stones that can help people deal with other issues in their lives such as health and relationships.”
He thanked the State Government and Ms Williams for “their ongoing commitment to supporting those who are vulnerable within our society and agencies like ourselves that work with them”.
Mr Barrington, who joined Cornerstone last month, said there were 100 registered boarding houses in Dandenong “plus 300 extras”.
“There’s more boarding houses here than there are in St Kilda,” he said.
“I think in St Kilda they’re slowly getting pushed out because of the pricing.
“This is where more and more are being pushed out to.
“For a lot of the people living in rooming houses, by the time they pay their board there they’ve got $40 a week to live on.”
Cornerstone isn’t just about providing a meal to people in need.
“It is a place for people to come and belong,” Mr Barrington said.
“People really love and own this place here. Because of that, they protect the space.
“Some guests have important roles they take up here.
“People aren’t just here as takers, they give back to the community as well.”