A Life Changed at Elizabeth Street Common Ground

Eva, a 32-year-old from Melbourne’s northern suburbs, left an unstable home as a young child after suffering from mental health issues. From then on, she spent years couch surfing, living at youth refuges, and sleeping rough.

Before a permanent single unit became available at Elizabeth Street Common Ground (ESCG) Eva spent eleven difficult days sleeping rough on Swanston Street during a cold Melbourne winter.

In 2017, she was added to Launch Housing’s Elizabeth Street Common Ground waiting list by a social worker from The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Eva periodically called Greg Cole, ESCG Coordinator, to see if a vacancy had opened up. After a few months, a spot became available and she moved in.

Her flat includes “everything I need, it came fully equipped,” including furniture, linens, and more, all provided by Launch Housing.

“Living here means I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to sleep tonight, what I’m going to eat, or if I’m going to have a shower.” – Eva, resident at ESCG.

Located in the heart of Melbourne, ESCG was built in 2010 and comprises 131 single occupancy units comprising a mix of both those who have experienced homelessness and low income earners.

The building is owned and managed by Unison, and Launch Housing provides the staff for 24/7 emotional and logistical support for tenants, including onsite medical and health professionals.

“This is a place where we value individuals and respect their journeys. Our residents have a sense of safety, security, dignity and respect.”– Nicola Manager at Elizabeth Street Common Ground.

Rents are set at a maximum of 30% of income for those who have experienced homelessness.

Based on a successful model in the United States, it is the first supportive housing project of its kind in Melbourne and at the time it opened, only the second in Australia.

Since then, similar developments have opened in Brisbane, Sydney, Hobart, Adelaide, Port Augusta and Canberra.

“I’m just so happy to be here,” she said. “Living here means I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to sleep tonight, what I’m going to eat, or if I’m going to have a shower.”

Now that she has a permanent home Eva’s focus has shifted to improving her physical health by using the ESCG health services.

Other future aspirations include going back to school to learn computer skills, writing music again, getting a photo ID and learner’s permit, and attending co-health walking group, cooking class, art group and gardening club.

For Eva the regular weekend barbecue is one of her favourite ESCG community events which brings residents together for a chat and a shared love of food.

She says, “The community feel here is good and I’ve been able to make friends.”

To learn more about ESCG read Housing First approach at Elizabeth Street Common Ground.