First “pop-up accommodation” reduces women’s homelessness

First “pop-up accommodation” reduces women’s homelessness
Sean Car

Melbourne’s first “pop-up accommodation” for women at risk of homelessness, The Lakehouse in South Melbourne, is undergoing further refurbishment to support even more women in need of housing. 

Pioneered by Housing All Australians (HAA), the pop-up model of housing provides temporary accommodation for vulnerable Australians by re-purposing vacant buildings awaiting redevelopment. 

In collaboration with community housing agencies and property owners, the scheme takes advantage of the thousands of suitable empty buildings across Australia that can be re-purposed for short-term use as crisis or transitional housing. 

It’s the same model underpinning the City of Melbourne’s “Make Room” project – a similar initiative transforming an underutilised council-owned building at 602 Little Bourke St in the CBD into accommodation for the city’s rough sleepers – made possible thanks to the advocacy of HAA. 

The Lakehouse is a previously empty aged care facility in South Melbourne that was repurposed in 2018 and, so far, has housed more than 100 women aged 55 and over in need of short-term housing. 

HAA founder and director Rob Pradolin said that thanks to the support provided by YWCA Australia, more than half of these women had been able to secure permanent public housing or private rentals. 


“There are hundreds of vacant buildings awaiting redevelopment across Australia, which is another form of society’s wastage,” he said. “People are sleeping on our streets, on couches, and in cars. Pop-up housing like Lakehouse is not a long-term solution, but they’re a way the private sector can take action to help fix a society in crisis.” 


The refurbishment of the original 32 rooms in The Lakehouse was made by possible by the generosity of more than 15 businesses, which included pro-bono design and building services, as well as funding from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing. 

Planning for the next stage of refurbishment works is now under way, with upgrades to the remaining 20 empty rooms scheduled for completion in 2023. The works will involve upgrades to the existing laundry and kitchen facilities. •

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