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Young adults to find a place to call home

13 Feb 2024

Nearly 40 young homeless adults are about to move into brand new housing in an innovative and unique initiative supported by The Ross Trust.

The Melbourne City Mission (MCM) program will ultimately provide housing for 56 tenants in several different styles of housing, including one- and two-bedroom apartments, townhouses, and houses. The accommodation has been built in Werribee, and Point Cook, with one more site to come.  In addition to building, accommodation will also include a lease agreement for six two-bedroom apartments in a mid-rise building in Footscray, also in Melbourne’s west.

The Ross Trust is providing $225,000 in funding to help MCM, which is a leading community support organisation, to deliver the initiative. 

Uniquely, the initiative will also provide therapeutic support over four years, to help the young residents transition to adulthood and leave homelessness in their past.

Renae Johnston, General Manager – Philanthropy, Partnerships and Brand, says it is estimated that more than 6000 young people in Victoria are homeless each night. This initiative, co-designed with young people who have been homeless, will focus on people aged between 18 and 24 who have complex needs and need significant support.

“This includes long-term stable housing, therapeutic support, personal development coaching, employment and education counselling, and financial assistance,” Renae says. 

“We’re aiming to help the young person regain confidence and develop financial capability to exit into a private rental and away from subsidised, supported housing, resulting in improved individual wellbeing and significant government savings.”

Young people who become homeless are likely to have experienced family violence, high levels of mental distress, disruption from school, employment, community, and other positive social connections. First Nations young people and those with mental health illness, justice and family violence histories and out of home care, are all overrepresented in the youth homelessness system.

MCM developed the initiative after seeing the increasing challenges faced by young people seeking safe, stable, and affordable housing, including discrimination and soaring rents.

The pilot was designed using evidence-based research and service system mapping, and then analysing the program’s financial costs against the expected fiscal savings to governments.

“That predicted the expected government savings generated are estimated to be $222,000 per person,” Renae says. “When the business case was completed, we began acquiring sites, designing buildings, hiring project managers, and became a registered housing provider.”

Construction of the accommodation began last year, with almost all the properties now ready. The properties are:

    • six one-bedroom shared accommodation in Werribee
    • 10 one-bedroom self-contained apartments in Werribee, 
    • nine two-bedroom townhouses in Point Cook 
    • six two-bedroom apartments in a mid-rise building in Footscray – leased. 
    • Five two-bedroom properties are still to be acquired. 

The Ross Trust CEO Sarah Hardy says most homelessness programs do not provide therapeutic support to help young people heal from trauma, nor do they last long enough to ensure young people can transition successfully into adulthood and out of homelessness. 

“We are thrilled to support this initiative,” Sarah says. “We know that homelessness can profoundly affect mental and physical health, and education and employment opportunities. This initiative is going to be the only program in Victoria that offers stability, safety, support, and time to heal and grow, all under one roof.”

All referrals will be registered on the Victorian Housing Register. The primary referral pathways will include MCM’s FrontYard Youth Services and from within MCM’s system of youth refuges.

Monash University will undertake a program evaluation supplemented by government data and an independent evaluation by Monash University academics. Renae says at the end of the first five years, the initiative will be able to evidence its success. 

“This could allow us to scale-up the YHI Program in Victoria and potentially across Australia,” she says.  “We are so grateful to The Ross Trust and our other supporters for supporting the initiative, which is going to change lives.”

Visit for more information about MCM.