What is emergency housing & why is it so important?

The word ‘home’ conjures up all sorts of cosy images and feelings. Comfy couches, pot plants on windowsills, a kettle and your favourite mug ready to be filled.

It’s where you should feel safest, and know you can retreat to after a long day. (Or not leave at all that day, if it’s that sort of week).

But what happens when your home is no longer a safe place? When your partner is becoming more and more threatening, and you’re worried that you’ll be injured if you stay there another night?

Or when you can’t be there at all? Because someone else owns the house and after months of struggling you just can’t pay your rent?

You need somewhere safe to stay immediately.

You need emergency housing. A house, a unit, a lockable room somewhere that you can call your own while you plan for your next steps.

Emergency housing in Melbourne comes in many forms.

There are women’s-only options, men’s-only options, places for families with small children, and places where you can receive specialist help for different issues on-site.

Because after the trauma of losing your home, you may need support to recover and feel safe again, before you can plan to find a new home to move into.

During the pandemic, when Melbourne realised there were five times the number of people sleeping rough on our streets that anyone thought, we needed to very quickly provide emergency accommodation to thousands of people.

That’s why hotels were used. Hotels provided temporary, safe accommodation for thousands of people during the worst of the pandemic.

They’re not great places to live long-term, but in the short-term they can not only life-saving, but for people like Colin, life-changing:

“How do you explain it? Apart from a warm, dry bed, being able to cook and feel safe, the biggest change is it gives you a chance to try to focus on getting life going.”

No-one plans to need this kind of support, but thousands of people each year find themselves needing it.

If we can make sure enough of this emergency accommodation exists for the people who need it, and that it provides the right help and support, we can help make any experience of homelessness as short and free of trauma as possible.

And that’s one major step towards ending homelessness for good.

Need help?

If, like Colin, you ever need to find emergency accommodation or safe housing, there’s a state-wide service in Victoria that will connect you to all the support organisations who can help. See our Getting Help page for more information.

Colin Johnson The Age 2020