Victorian rough sleepers given coronavirus lifeline
15 April 2020 at 2:55 pm
Experts say giving rough sleepers a place to self-isolate could save many lives
For people experiencing homelessness, finding a safe place to self-isolate is a near impossible task.
But a Victorian state government project turning repurposed aged-care sites into shelters is being hailed as a lifeline to protect rough sleepers against COVID-19.
The $8.8 million project will see four pop-up centres built in inner-Melbourne that will provide health care and supported accommodation for over 200 rough sleepers over the next six months.
The centres will be run by Anglicare Victoria, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Launch Housing, Sacred Heart Mission and VincentCare Victoria.
Those eligible for the service are people experiencing homelessness who:
- have undergone testing for coronavirus and are awaiting results;
- have undergone testing for coronavirus and returned a positive result;
- are required to self-isolate and do not have suitable housing to do so; or
- are being discharged from hospital and require accommodation to recover from coronavirus.
The Council to Homeless Persons CEO Jenny Smith said giving rough sleepers a place to self-isolate would save many lives.
“The overwhelming advice during this pandemic has been to stay at home to prevent spreading the virus. For those sleeping rough, this is impossible,” Smith said.
“For those without a home who get sick during this time, especially rough sleepers and those in crisis accommodation, temporary isolated shelter and ongoing medical support will help curb the spread of the virus and save lives among this very vulnerable group.”
She also lauded the government for collaborating with the homelessness sector to tackle the issue. “The sector has always emphasised that homelessness and health are inextricably linked, and now this announcement demonstrates that the government understands this too,” she said.
Victorian Housing Minister Richard Wynne thanked homeless support staff for their work.
“Homelessness support staff are working hard every day to make sure the most vulnerable Victorians can get a roof over their head and stay well – we thank them for everything they’re doing in these challenging times,” Wynne said.