FRANKSTON is following in the footsteps of Collingwood Football Club in a bid to help the homeless.
Council will trial a 12-month pilot program to establish three ‘Magpie Nest’ houses in Frankston to provide accommodation and support to homeless people.
Collingwood FC’s Magpie Nest Housing Project, launched in 2012, helps people sleeping rough on the streets or in unsafe rooming houses.
Safe and good-quality accommodation with reduced rents is provided and “wraparound” case management support, in partnership with mental health services and employment agencies, help homeless people get back on their feet.
Frankston councillors unanimously voted at last week’s public council meeting to back a proposal by Cr Glenn Aitken to mimic the ‘Magpie Nest’ project in Frankston.
“In a ground breaking initiative, Major Brendan Nottle of the Salvation Army in conjunction with Eddie McGuire and the Collingwood Football Club, worked to create a model which has seen only a few people housed initially, and has now grown to around 80 people, in the space of only two years,” Cr Aitken said.
A council officers’ report identified “under-investment by federal and state government … as contributing to a growth in rooming houses, inadequate housing supply and service gaps”.
Emergency housing agency SalvoCare backs council’s push to bring the Magpies Nest model to Frankston.
The Salvation Army agency’s records show there were 2,200 “unique clients” seeking emergency housing in Frankston in 2012-13 and 600 “repeat clients”.
Three houses will be rented to nine homeless individuals aged between 30-60 years old during the 12-month Frankston project trial.
Collingwood’s program began with two houses in 2013 and now has 29 homes. Rental properties are leased through the private market for the program, housing three tenants who are thoroughly assessed as “compatible“ and rents paid are comparable to rooming house prices.
Council advised The Times “no damage has been done by tenants or guests to Magpie’s Nest properties in Melbourne’s northern suburbs”.
Case management costs for a 12 month trial are $115,105. A case manager will support all nine Magpie’s Nest residents.
Council is in talks with community groups, including SalvoCare, about funding the Frankston program.
“[This] is the greatest opportunity we have had to collectively make a difference,” Cr Aitken said.
“All councillors can combine with the greater organisation of Frankston City Council and our community to lift people from despair and remove them from a cycle of hopelessness to change their life and return to them a degree of comfort, shelter and dignity.”
Cr Aitken believes the Magpies Nest model can undermine the power of some rooming house operators who benefit from homelessness if the model takes flight across Frankston.
Frankston mayor Cr Sandra Mayer hoped one of the three homes to be leased in Frankston could be used to help a family affected by domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is really rampant in our area. It’s like a cancer and I would really love to see one of those houses there for a young family that is stuck in a really horrible situation and have nowhere to go.”
The project trial is due to begin in July and could eventually become a blueprint for other Victorian councils if successful.