By Ewen McRae
The impact of coronavirus on some of the most vulnerable in the community is starting to be felt.
Hope Street Youth and Family Services helps provide emergency accommodation and assistance for those in need locally, and was due to open their first response youth refuge home next month.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the completion and opening of the refuge has now been postponed.
The purpose-designed refuge will eventually provide short-term 24/7 crisis accommodation and wrap-around support to 100 young people and young families each year.
Hope Street chief executive Donna Bennett said they would continue to operate on their current model to help locals in need.
“Our team in Melton continues to operate an interim refuge model utilising two private rental properties, providing crisis accommodation and 24/7 wrap around support to young people and young families who are experiencing homelessness,” Ms Bennett said.
“We know this news will come as a disappointment to the many incredible partners and community members who have contributed to get this project off the ground.
“However we also know that, at this unprecedented moment in time, our top priorities are the continuation of services to our clients as well as protecting one another and especially those most vulnerable in our community.”
Meanwhile, the state government last week announced a $6 million funding package for homelessness organisations impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The funding is designed to help organisations like Hope Street get people back on their feet, or find temporary housing during the crisis.
The government also announced alternative pop-up accommodation will be established for homeless people requiring quarantine or self-isolation in Melbourne.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is going to have wide-ranging impacts across our community, but those experiencing homelessness who have nowhere else to go, will be hit particularly hard,” housing minister Richard Wynne said.
“This funding will help to get a roof over the head of more Victorians, helping to reduce transmission amongst the community and provide those who are unwell with a safe place to recover.”