Melbourne club partners with homeless agency to provide shelter for city’s poor
Top: The Elizabeth Street Common Ground facility in Melbourne has provided more than 65 homeless people with affordable housing. Bottom: Members of the Rotary Club of Melbourne assemble furniture at the facility in 2010. Photo courtesy of the Rotary Club of Melbourne
More than 65 people in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, have a roof over their heads after moving into the newly built Elizabeth Street Common Ground, a facility that provides affordable apartments, mental health services, employment assistance, and medical referrals to the homeless.
In partnership with HomeGround Services, the city's largest homeless support agency, the Rotary Club of Melbourne raised US$32,000 to furnish rooms in the facility. More than 40 club members each spent 35 days last year moving and assembling furniture and preparing apartments for the tenants.
"This project brings the community together in so many ways," says Philip Endersbee, 2010-11 president of the Melbourne club. "Businesses, neighbors, and tenants have all become involved. Everyone in the community feels a bit of ownership."
The Elizabeth Street Common Ground opened in August with 161 apartments on 11 floors, and a 24-hour concierge. The initiative, based on projects in New York City, provides housing for individuals who became homeless because of drug addiction, mental illness, physical disability, or job loss.
Endersbee says helping the homeless is now one of his club's top priorities, and will be a backbone of its community involvement for years to come.
"The cooperative partnership between the Melbourne club and HomeGround Services provides a wonderful opportunity for hands-on experience for members in contributing to the eradication of long-term homelessness," he says.
Under its 2009 agreement with HomeGround Services, the Melbourne club has committed to
- Raising $300,000 a year toward maintenance costs and operating expenses, including funds for care workers, rehabilitation specialists, and medical staff
- Assisting HomeGround in raising funds from individuals and corporations, and seeking funding from local, state, and federal governments to support the Elizabeth Street project
- Promoting supportive housing among local authorities, businesses, community organizations, and local Rotary clubs
- Exploring job opportunities for Elizabeth tenants
"This project has been a real positive for Rotary's public image," says Endersbee. "There is no doubt that Rotary is seen as a beacon among nonprofit organizations in our city."
The Melbourne club's work with the homeless was nominated as a ProjectLINK model project. ProjectLINK model projects provide examples of best practices and can introduce clubs to a variety of creative ideas. Learn more .