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Property industry joins forces to combat homelessness

Last Friday, TEN Women held a fundraising event that raised over $250,000 to help Housing All Australians (HAA) build homeless shelters for older women. The event was held at Myer Mural Hall in Melbourne and attended by more than 500 people from the property industry, including Lord Mayor Sally Capp.

One of the directors of TEN Women, FMA Chairman Kristiana Greenwood, was shocked to read about a former international model who fell on hard times and found herself living in a pop-up shelter in South Melbourne. That article was what inspired TEN Women – a group that supports women in the property industry – to set about organising the fundraising event.

The most surprising thing for TEN Women was the huge response from the property industry. Within two weeks, CBRE came on board as a Gold sponsor; Irwinconsult and McCormack Property as Silver sponsors; and Arup, Australian Unity, Buildcorp, Donald Cant Watts Corke, Grimshaw and Watpac as Bronze sponsors.

The event sold out within one month. Those who were unable to attend donated money or auction prizes. Alicia Loxley, Sammy J and Melissa Hobbs also donated their time and skills as MC, entertainer and photographer respectively.

The lunch not only raised funds and awareness of homelessness, but also encouraged the property and construction industry to work together to combat the issue. The homeless shelter in South Melbourne, known as the “Lakehouse”, is one example of how governments, community organisations and the private sector can work together to come up with innovative solutions.

The Lakehouse was previously a nursing home that was not being used, since plans for its redevelopment had stalled. The building was rented to YWCA, an organisation that helps women on low incomes find affordable housing, and converted into a pop-up shelter with the help of local businesses.  

The idea to convert the nursing home came from former property developer and HAA founder, Robert Pradolin. "It does not make sense to leave buildings empty when we have a housing crisis,” he said. He believes similar projects could be implemented across the country.

“There are so many wonderful charities addressing the issue of homelessness but the private sector can really step up to make a huge difference,” said Kris Greenwood. Last Friday was a good start.