North Fremantle 'My Home' project approved
An innovative project that takes advantage of surplus state government land to provide housing to homeless women aged 55 and over has been given the green light by Fremantle Council.
The ‘My Home’ proposal involves the construction of 18 self-contained single bedroom units on Congdon Street in North Fremantle on vacant land that is currently part of a railway reserve.
The development would remain in place for a period of 15 years and would be considered an ‘interim use’. Lightweight flat pack construction would allow for the removal of the units if and when the land is required for its reserved purpose.
Fremantle Council’s Planning Committee last week approved the proposal, which will now be referred to the WA Planning Commission for a final decision.
‘My Home’ Director Michelle Blakeley said there was growing evidence that single women aged over 55 were the fastest growing group of people becoming homeless in Australia.
“Homeless people come from all walks of life, from many socio-economic backgrounds and all demographics,” Ms Blakeley said.
“There is strong anecdotal evidence that women in the over 55 age group may have spent many years raising children and are less likely to have accumulated enough savings to support themselves.
“The death of a spouse, divorce, lack of confidence to re-enter the workforce, outdated work skills and poor financial management may all contribute to an older woman finding herself homeless.
“There are a lot of examples around Perth of government-owned land that has been earmarked for future development but isn’t being used for anything at the moment.
“Our aim with this project is to use some of that land to provide simple but safe and affordable housing to put a roof over the heads of these very vulnerable women and help them get back on their feet and re-engaged with the community.”
Each single storey unit in the project is designed to be energy efficient and thermally comfortable, with a bedroom, kitchen, living and bathroom space.
There will be shared storeroom facilities, communal parking bays and the site will be landscaped with vegetable gardens, fruit trees and outdoor living spaces.
The construction method uses timber pre-fabricated wall, roof and floor cassette systems which are delivered to site with insulation, external cladding, windows and cavities for services. The structure for each house can be erected in a day, making them extremely cost efficient.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said it was important to think outside the box and consider new approaches to tackling homelessness.
“The City of Fremantle is committed to doing its part to support people who are among the most vulnerable in our community, but homelessness is a complex problem which is beyond the resources of any one organisation to solve,” Mayor Pettitt said.
“This project is a great example of the kind of collaboration we need between the private sector, the community sector and local and state government.
“I’ve been really impressed by the vision and perseverance of the ‘My Home’ team and the clever design of the project on this site.
“It’s really encouraging to see innovative projects like this underway in Fremantle, and hopefully this will be the first of many projects of this kind around the state.”
‘My Home’ Australasia Limited is an entity company that facilitates housing and land developments to accommodate disadvantaged people experiencing homelessness.
Its projects are based on the Housing First model, which works on the premise that if someone has a permanent, secure and safe place they can call home their chances of progressing to an independent, decent and dignified quality of life are significantly increased.