PARTNERS in an innovative project to provide housing and intensive support to transform the lives of youths at risk of homelessness have started development of a second block of apartments in Murray Bridge to double the capacity of the initiative.
Regional agency ac.care is leading the bold initiative and continues to support four young people living in the first block of Studio Purpose apartments after the keys to the building were handed over in 2021 following a broad community effort to convert a disused South Australian Housing Authority duplex into four apartments.
A second property has now been made available by the housing authority and conversion of a second disused building into four apartments is under way with volunteers and suppliers of construction materials and skills which generously support the community construction project.
The South Australia’s branch of international non-profit organisation Habitat for Humanity will drive the construction phase of the project thanks to the substantial funding from Impact100 SA, Morialta Trust, Harvey Foundation, The Rural City of Murray Bridge and other private donors.
Habitat has a global mission to “bring people together to build homes, communities and hope” and is working with the project partners and supporters from the community and business sector to convert the second building after the success of the previous project.
Once complete, ac.care will work with partners to support eight young people aged 15-23 who receive an independent income across the two properties, which each feature four self-contained and fully-furnished apartments.
Taking a housing-first approach, The Studio Purpose project will extend beyond provision of independent accommodation for vulnerable youths to include broad support to help young people reach their potential.
“We are thrilled to be building on the success of the first phase of Studio Purpose and helping address the identified shortage of safe accommodation for young people in the area, but this is about much more than a warm bed and welcoming space, with a focus on health and wellbeing, education, development, connection and engagement,” ac.care Murraylands homelessness regional manager Thanuja Hiripitiyage said.
The project is the result of strong cooperation between various organisations and government agencies after ac.care identified a worrying trend of young clients being unable to find suitable accommodation in the Murray Bridge area.
“This has contributed to some young people sleeping rough in inappropriate living conditions, adding further risk in the lives of vulnerable youths,” Ms Hiripitiyage said.
The partnership involves ac.care, Believe Housing Australia, South Australian Housing Authority, headspace Murray Bridge, Rural City of Murray Bridge and Habitat for Humanity South Australia.
“We want to reduce youth homelessness in the region by building on our existing services and creating positive partnerships with key stakeholders to provide holistic support to youth who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,” Ms Hiripitiyage said.
Accommodation will be managed by Believe Housing Australia for young people receiving an independent income, with an expectation tenants will engage with employment and education opportunities to boost their future prospects and wellbeing.
"We take great pride in our involvement in this collaboration, dedicated to improving the living conditions of young individuals within our community who currently reside in inadequate accommodations,” Believe Housing Australia executive general manager Stacey Northover said.
“The Studio Purpose initiative ensures they can enjoy the fundamental human right of a safe and secure home."
Project partners will deliver services to tenants via agreements either through home visits or with external priority appointments and develop exit strategies to help youths transition from the units to reunification with families, private rental arrangements or other housing options delivered by service providers.
South Australian Human Services Minister Nat Cook said providing accommodation for young people experiencing homelessness through such innovative projects as Studio Purpose changed lives.
“Many young people experience homelessness often through no fault of their own and sometimes due to the fact that home is no longer a safe place to be,” Minister Cook said.
“I absolutely applaud the work of ac.care and all of the organisations who have come together to support this life-changing initiative.
“Studio Purpose re-imagines how Authority homes can be used to benefit the most vulnerable people in our community.”
Ms Hiripitiyage said the project was currently seeking community support and partnerships to develop and sustain the initiative and ensure the community can work together in the Murraylands to make meaningful and long-term differences in the lives of young people to reduce youth homelessness.
Among the contributors to the current project is OneFortyOne with the Limestone Coast forestry and sawmilling business purchasing personal protective equipment for a group of young Aboriginal males who are providing support and earning construction qualifications through their involvement in the project.
To contribute to construction or fit-out of the project, call local Habitat for Humanity representative Bob Martin on 0423 497 706 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.