Serviced apartment buildings across Australia are providing temporary relief for people at risk of homelessness due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to The New Daily.
Apartment hotel giant Quest has teamed up with the Salvation Army to open the doors of more than 140 serviced apartment hotel buildings across the country to vulnerable Australians.
“It will absolutely save lives,” said Robert Pradolin, founder of the not-for-profit organisation Housing All Australians.
While Quest provides the rooms, it is up to the Salvation Army who gets an apartment free of charge for a maximum of one month.
Although the program was created to support family violence victims, those who have lost their jobs and are struggling to pay rent during the COVID-19 crisis, help won’t be limited to those affected by the coronavirus, said Mr Pradolin, adding that people already homeless before COVID-19 will also be eligible for housing.
“We know that there are thousands of empty serviced apartments across the country that are just closed,” said Mr Pradolin, who hopes other serviced apartment operators follow Quest’s lead.
“If we can open up some of these to share that burden and bring us through this crisis, it will be something that we’d look back on and say, ‘We did the right thing during times of need’,” he said.
The program has been well-received by appreciative families and homeless people across the country, but some are concerned that once the crisis is over, they’ll “just dump people back on the streets in the end”.
“For the homeless community, I don’t think the pandemic has been that different for a lot. The guys on the street are still struggling for food. They’re still struggling for the basic necessities of life, and they still don’t have a roof over their head,” said Sydney homeless man Lanz Priestley.
Livia Carusi, national general manager at the Salvation Army, agreed that there is high demand for additional accommodation.
“The availability of short-term accommodation is part of the bigger picture of building much more housing, in particular social housing, for many within our community who are priced out of the private rental market and home ownership,” she said.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has also called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to deliver a “significant investment” in social and affordable housing.
“It’s critical that we are still saying, ‘We are all in this together’, after the lockdown has come to an end – and not just saying it, living up to that standard,” said Mr Albanese.
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