Harris Transportable Housing Project Frequently Asked Questions

The Harris Transportable Housing Project uses parcels of vacant VicRoads land in Footscray and Maidstone to create 57 tiny homes for people with a chronic experience of homelessness.

This project demonstrates how underutilised government land can be repurposed to create safe, stable homes for people who urgently need them.

The project is already having an enormous impact on the lives of six people, who have been living in the homes since early 2019.

Who is involved?

Ending homelessness requires a collective, cross-sector response.

This project is a partnership between Launch Housing and philanthropists Geoff and Brad Harris, of Harris Capital, with funding from the Victorian Property Fund, and vacant land provided by VicRoads.

The design of the homes was led by architects Schored Projects, with valuable insight from Launch Housing’s Lived Experience Advisory Group.

Deb Tenant Harris Transportable Homes

(Image: Launch Housing Tenant Deborah,  One of the six people living at Harris Transportable Housing)

The prefabricated homes are constructed in a factory by Oscar Builders in Horsham, delivered to site on a truck and lifted on by a crane. All on site construction works including services, footings and landscaping is being managed by Hansen Yuncken and Carelli Constructions.

Why is it needed?

Australia’s homelessness problem is growing.

We know that housing is foundational for a good life. Without housing, people experience increased harm, they use more services and end up costing the community more.

According to Launch Housing’s Australian Homelessness Monitor, homelessness increased by 14% between 2011 and 2016, with around 116,000 people nationally experiencing homelessness on any given night. Rough sleeping in particular increased by 20% in the same five year period, to around 8,200 people.There simply aren’t enough affordable properties available to meet demand.

In Victoria alone, around 82,000 people are on the social housing waiting list.

The wait for a home can be up to 25 years. Having a place to call home is empowering. This project provides the stability and security people need to rebuild their lives and break the cycle of homelessness.

What are the design and sustainability credentials?

The tiny homes have been sustainably built and uniquely designed with the tenants’ needs in mind.

Many prospective tenants said they wanted something small, which they can maintain and call their own.

Deb's garden

(Image: Launch Housing tenant Deborah looks after her garden)

The homes boast a 6-star energy rating and with correct solar orientation, north-facing windows enable economical energy consumption and solar hot water.

The homes sit on top of a removable surefoot footing system. They have a 50-year lifespan and, if required, can be relocated an unlimited number of times within this period.

Launch Housing’s Lived Experience Advisory Group helped design the layout, providing valuable insight into the specific needs of potential tenants who have an experience of homelessness.

We are working to evolve the design of the homes to ensure they are accessible and enable independent living for persons with disabilities.

Is there more land like this available in Melbourne? If so, where?

Most recent figures suggest around 195 hectares of government land is sitting empty across Greater Melbourne, which could host more than enough homes to end rough sleeping.

Harris Transportable Homes Front View

(Image: First transportable homes for people experiencing homelessness in Melbourne)

If this land was unlocked, projects like this could be scaled up to deliver housing solutions that the housing market wouldn’t otherwise provide.

Will you be building more tiny homes in future?

Given the enormous and urgent need for affordable housing across the Greater Melbourne region, we are committed to seeing this project expand to other areas in the future.

We want to work with people and organisations across all sectors to grow projects like this and rapidly build more homes for Victorians who urgently need them.

There’s plenty of vacant government-owned land available, but we need resources for construction and support. If you want to support more people into more homes like these, donate now.

How is this different to other public or social housing initiatives?

With between 6-12 homes on each of the 9 sites, the Harris Transportable Housing project is creating small communities within a larger community where the tenants can support each other.

These tiny homes are cost effective and quick to build, making them an ideal long-term housing solution for people with a chronic experience of homelessness.

The homes offer a pet-friendly space where tenants can live privately, with their own secure courtyard, balcony, kitchen and bathroom.

(Image: Launch Housing tenants and pet Zeusy)

The cross-sector response also sets this project apart: it’s a partnership between not-for-profit organisations, private philanthropists and government.

What happens if VicRoads needs the land?

VicRoads says it is unlikely to need the 9 parcels of land for at least 10 years.

If VicRoads does require the land, it must give a minimum of 12 months’ notice (not earlier than June 2026) to terminate the lease.

With around 195 hectares of government land sitting empty across Greater Melbourne, Launch Housing is confident it would be able to relocate the homes to a vacant space if needed.