A former university accommodation block in Wollongong is being transformed to help the region's vulnerable residents.
The apartment site at 75 Keira Street will be used as supported accommodation for the Wollongong Homeless Hub.
Mandy Booker, manager of Wollongong Emergency Family Housing and the Homeless Hub said they would be providing a full wrap-around service.
Read more: The hidden faces of the Illawarra's homeless
It will offer crisis accommodation, short-term transitional housing (up to six months) and long-term transitional (up to two years).
This includes 15 crisis beds (available via referrals from Family and Community Services housing) and 24 transitional beds (available via referral to the Homeless Hub).
The new project was funded by donations, and sponsorship will be sought to ensure the rooms are fitted out and maintained.
The crisis beds have now been fitted out, with the transitional beds to be up and running by the end of January.
The organisation has signed a long-term lease for use of the site for this purpose.
“With the increasing demand and pressure on affordable rental options for those on low incomes, Wollongong Emergency Family Housing is excited to provide the only supported accommodation that gives the clients opportunity to move through crisis to stable accommodation at the one location,” Ms Booker said.
“This limits the need for people to be constantly displaced and moved from accommodation to accommodation.
“We’re pleased to have it come together just before Christmas, when there is a real shortage of crisis beds due to the local accommodation and hotel services being booked out with holiday-makers. It leaves our local vulnerable people without anywhere to go.”
Ms Booker said the tenants of the transitional housing will make a rental contribution, with an aim to “upskill people to go into the rental market”.
Ms Booker said individuals and couples who find themselves facing homelessness generally present with a range of accompanying issues.
She said these issues are often barriers to easily resolving homelessness.
“Those in residence will receive case management which supports resolving barriers to finding suitable accommodation and establishing and maintaining a tenancy,” Ms Booker said.
“Despite the known benefits of such a model, it is rarely extended to include adult clients in the Wollongong LGA.
“Currently outside of the domestic violence services only nine supported temporary accommodation beds are available and the case management attached is limited to one contact per week.”
The service will also continue to operate its head office from 1/1 Young Street, Wollongong.
Meanwhile, the Hub is seeking donations for its annual Christmas hamper appeal to distribute to families and individuals in need.
If you can help, or wish to sponsor a Keira Street room, email firstname.lastname@example.org.