While winter is not particularly harsh in Melbourne, it’s not terribly pleasant either. It’s certainly not a good time to be a rough sleeper (not that I imagine it can ever be a good time) and it seems to me that there are more of them in the city than ever before. Their presence ranges from collections of blankets and bags neatly bundled on the street to small camps within empty shop-front doorways. These are not in the side streets or alleys either. They are right on main CBD streets. I can’t imagine rough sleepers would choose such exposed sites if the other better hidden, more sheltered areas are not already completely full.
At the same time, two very different studies provide two complementary findings: the first that hundreds of apartments are left completely empty in Melbourne many for durations as long as a year, the second that the most effective and cost-effective approach to alleviating the misery of long-term homeless / rough sleepers with complex issues is by housing them first.
The solution is obvious isn’t it?