COVID-19: First Responders Help 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. Storing essentials like food, toiletries and medicines is not an option for those without a home. Many experiencing homelessness have poor health and with little money, accessing healthcare services can be a challenge.

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.

We are worried about an increase in rough sleepers at the precise moment when we need to see a reverse in that situation.


Couch surfers and people living in cramped rooms might be forced to move with no other option but to live on the street.

People experiencing housing difficulties may be in households where relationships are already far from strong and with unease about social distancing, they could be even more at risk.

Consider letting couch surfers stay, so they don’t become the next influx of rough sleepers at a time when that’s the last thing anybody wants to have happen.

Please donate to help protect Melbourne’s most vulnerable during the pandemic.