A grassroots charity is taking a Japanese hotel concept and turning it into a short-term haven for the homeless.
For the past three years Goodna Street Life, south-west of Brisbane, has been developing and building accommodation pods in the hope of aiding people needing emergency shelter.
The group provides crisis accommodation at Helen’s Haven but aims to match people with long-term housing.
Founder and president Helen Youngberry said the severe lack of affordable housing had forced the charity to look at innovative alternatives to cope with unprecedented demand.
“At the back of our haven we built decking for the pods to sit on,” she told ABC Radio Brisbane.
“Each pod has its own USB charger, lights, windows, mattress and bed, all powered by solar.
“It’s like a little Japanese hotel.”
She said the pods allowed clients to have a closed door and privacy.
“It gives them the chance to get in out of the weather and give them a little comfort,” Ms Youngberry said.
“For many, they can’t just venture back into society, so this is like a carrot to help them trust us.”
The group has six pods finished and eight nearly completed as part of stage one and aims to find other locations to put the pods.
‘The worst I have seen it’
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for crisis accommodation has increased five-fold for the organisation.
“It’s dire, absolutely dire,” Ms Youngberry said.
A recent report by the Queensland Audit Office on the Queensland Housing Department found that 31,000 households are on the social housing register, an increase of 78 per cent since 2018.
“We’re getting 15 calls a day ranging from what we call normal homeless up to families living in cars and elderly who can’t afford their rentals anymore,” Ms Youngberry said.
“It’s the worst I have seen it and it hasn’t just crept up. In the last 18 months it has just whammed us and caught us all off guard.”
The group has been searching in all areas for additional accommodation.
“The problem we’re finding is that there’s nowhere to move them to now,” Ms Youngberry said.
“We’re usually the middle person but now we are the start and the end, and we have nowhere to put people.”
Support needed for more pods
It is hoped local businesses will come on board to sponsor additional pods as the need for crisis housing grows.
“It gives us a way to show people what life is like for those sleeping on the streets, but also a way for us to create awareness too,” Ms Youngberry said.
The group recently took over Laurel’s Place, a former missionary property, and will use it to take in families.
“We’re now housing families there that have been displaced by flooding, rental crisis, the whole kit and caboodle,” Ms Youngberry said.
“Who with a conscience can leave a mum, dad, and three children in a car?”
Article source: www.abc.net.au