More rooming houses required but oversight is key

Gloria Anderson and Michael Eggleton at the Cornerstone office.

More housing is required to combat homelessness and they need to be governed better, say support service workers.

Pastor Michael Eggleton is the administrator and Gloria Anderson is the kitchen manager at Cornerstone Contact Centre in Dandenong, which provides many services to disadvantaged people in the area.

Ms Anderson said that a key plan for the government is to “provide more housing… even if it’s temporary… [it’s] enough to move on”.

The Council to Homeless Persons have previously made recommendations to the Victorian Government for inclusionary zoning, where a portion of all unit developments must be social housing, to be considered.

Mr Eggleton considered this “a good step, but then… they need to govern it properly”.

Ms Anderson noted that some people don’t feel safe at boarding houses, due to some becoming brothels and drug dens at night, and instead choose to sleep rough on the street.

Mr Eggleton said that “if there’s no sort of supervision … if they’ve got problems with drugs then they can just start to abuse it”.

“What you don’t want to do is turn those places into havens for the wrong kind of activity,” he said. “You want to make sure that you’re … protecting them, sometimes even from themselves”.

Ian Gough, manager of consumer programs at the Council to Homeless Persons, echoes their thoughts.

“The critical driver of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing,” he said.

In regards to rooming houses, Mr Gough said “this newer type of rooming house … they’re uncontrolled spaces, no-one works there”.

According to the Tenant’s Union of Victoria rooming house handbook, a rooming house (or boarding house) can be defined as premises where private rooms or beds are rented, but the kitchen and bathroom are shared by all residents.



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