The staggering number of people sleeping rough in Australia is heartbreaking. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, over 116,000 people across the country are estimated to be homeless, which includes people living in severely crowded accommodation and in temporary housing. Around 8,000 people are sleeping without any shelter at all – on the street, under bridges or on benches.
But there could be some out-of-the-box solutions in sight, with the rise of innovative, not-for-profit organisations like the Tiny Homes Foundation and Beddown.
Let’s take a look at tiny homes. These sweet, miniature versions of fully-fledged houses each contain a kitchenette, generous bedding, bathrooms and more, and are fast becoming go-to holiday destinations due to the rise of travel start-ups like In2thewild and Unyoked. But aside from offering an off the grid, sustainable escape to those who can afford it, they’re also helping to address Australia’s homeless concerns.
Based in Sydney, the Tiny Homes Foundation aims to provide affordable housing solutions for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness – particularly youth – bridging the gap between crisis accommodation and private rental. As a social housing provider, they take government land that isn’t being used and create a community out of portable tiny homes. At the end of the day, they aim to create a place for people to call home.
Another hardworking not-for-profit organisation Beddown provides pop-up accommodation for vulnerable people sleeping on the streets. They collaborate with a range of secure venues which are occupied during the day but left vacant at night – such as parking lots. A team of volunteers transform these empty spaces into safe havens for guests to sleep in comfortable beds, offering nightly showers and laundry alongside monthly haircuts and clothing donations.
Founded by Norman McGillivray, the charity is currently working with Secure Parking – which operates over 600 car parks across Australia and New Zealand – to conduct the first Beddown trial in Brisbane CBD. If they’re successful, repurposing empty car parks into essential shelters could be a major turning point for improving the quality of life of Australians experiencing homelessness.
While there’s a long way to go before we can end homelessness in Australia (according to Mission Australia 500,000 social and affordable homes are needed to meet this mammoth goal) both of these beautiful initiatives are a big leap in the right direction.