COVID-19: Help for Melbourne’s Homeless
Launch Housing is on the front line as first responders during the coronavirus outbreak. Our mobile outreach teams, crisis centres and other services remain open and are helping people experiencing homelessness and rough sleeping in Melbourne.
There are nearly 25,000 Victorians experiencing homelessness on any given night. These people are particularly vulnerable and would be at greater risk if they caught the virus.
The general advice to stay home and to wash your hands is hard to follow for those who are sleeping rough, couch surfing or in crisis accommodation.
As one of Victoria’s largest housing and homelessness service providers we responded quickly to the health emergency with a range of measures to protect clients and staff.
- We prioritised front-line services, including essential outreach work and maintaining 24 hour crisis accommodation services, during the public health emergency.
- Outreach teams are delivering care packages to rough sleepers and where necessary, clients are being directed to one of 12 screening clinics at major hospitals for testing and care – without the need to call ahead.
- All non-essential visitors have been banned from Launch Housing facilities to help limit the possibility of infection.
- All tradespeople and contractors are being vetted prior to entry to our facilities to ensure they are in good health and follow hygiene procedures.
- Tenants in transitional housing are being supported by phone instead of by home visits where possible, and clients are being transported by taxi to get to their appointments.
Launch Housing is currently supporting about 1,000 people in emergency accommodation in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Of the 1,000 individuals, 72 per cent had been sleeping rough, living on trains, in cars or squatting and had high housing needs prior to the outbreak.
Outreach teams have come off the streets and are now working inside the hotels and motels with our service partners, to start uncovering some of the health and other needs of the individuals.
Launch is also a partner in running a new 43-bed isolation and recovery centre for people experiencing homelessness in inner Melbourne.
The need to house everyone has never been more urgent
Did you know it costs more to treat street homelessness, than it does to fix it? What seems like a complex problem often has a simple solution. An interesting fact is that we could build 3,000 homes in Victoria with the money we are spending to keep people in emergency accommodation.