Whittlesea homeless centre for youth a step closer to reality

A crisis accommodation centre for homeless youth is a step closer in Whittlesea, with the council set to lease land to youth support service, Hope Street.

The council will offer Hope Street a 30-year lease for land at Embling Drive, South Morang, where it can open a 12-bed supported accommodation centre for homeless youth aged between 16-25 and their children.

The council is seeking public feedback on the proposal, with the centre set to be built next to an existing respite facility.

It is anticipated the centre will cost $4.8 million to build and $2 million per annum to run. The council and Hope Street is advocating for state government, corporate and philanthropic funding for the project.

The centre will be based on a similar facility run by Hope Street in Melton.

Cr Sam Alessi said the council should be proud to be partnering with Hope Street.

“Youth homelessness is very hidden, especially in outer suburbs like Whittlesea,” he said. “We don’t see it in our municipality, although we know it exists.

“This is something that is needed in our municipality. It will be good for our community and it will be good for our young people.”

Hope Street chief executive Donna Bennett said the demographic most at risk of homelessness in Whittlesea was young people aged 16-25.

Ms Bennett said there were not enough affordable private rental properties or social housing in Whittlesea and as a result young people often couch surfed or slept in cars.

“Growth areas really lack the infrastructure that is needed to prevent people from becoming homeless,” she said.