Service a mortgage and transform a life

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MARK, a single older man living in an inhuman situation and under tremendous mental stress, recently shifted into one of Avalon Centre’s Home for the Homeless, a one-bedroom flat in Dandenong.

Deborah Holmes, Avalon’s president and founder, said when he moved in and sat on the couch, he cried.

“He told me for the first time in his life he was at peace and felt safe,” Ms Holmes said.

“Avalon aims to help people who have slipped through the cracks.

“This includes the homeless, people with mental illness or disabilities, the elderly and anyone requiring support.

“Homes for the Homeless’ objective is to provide an affordable home with ongoing personalised support for the resident.”

Finland developed its Housing First model to combat homelessness in 2007.

This initiative, whose premise delivers a typical lease and individually tailored support services to the new resident, is Avalon’s source for its housing initiative.

Fanny Malinen, a journalist with the Finish news and opinion website Equal Times, said the Housing First idea is simple.

“Everyone is entitled to somewhere to live, even people with complex psychosocial, health and financial issues such as addiction or poor credit ratings,” she said.

“The theory is that it is easier to tackle the multiple issues often faced by a person experiencing homelessness if that person has a stable home.”

Ms Holmes’s agrees with the concept of supplying the person a home first, which provides stability, security, and support which helps to get their lives back on track.

A Narre Warren three-bedroom house was the first Home for the Homeless opened by the Avalon Centre in 2019.

A homeless person will move into a home of their own in Avalon’s sixth property on Saturday, 24 April in Dandenong.

Donations to the charity have funded all six properties, with the money used to service the mortgages.

Each of the residents pays a social rent defined by the Housing First approach as 25 per cent of their income.

“This makes it affordable for the tenant, and it goes towards property expenses such as rates, owner’s corporation fees and repairs,” Ms Holmes said.

“However, Avalon makes no profit at all,” she added.

Avalon has continued to refine and reshape their Homes for the Homeless program.

They have moved away from large properties now focusing on one or two-bedroom flats in the Dandenong area and have implemented a volunteer property support person for each home.

Although undertaking training for the role, the support person is not a caseworker or care worker.

The purpose is to be more like a friend and role model, who will have face to face contact with the tenant at a minimum once a week and be available by phone when needed.

The house supporter could sometimes offer help with simple requests that a homeless person may not have encountered, such as budgeting, cooking, and shopping.

Ms Holmes said Avalon had centred its recent property purchasing in Dandenong.

“The last four flats were affordable at around $200,000 to $250,000,” she said.

“Secondly, Dandenong offers access to services needed by our tenants, most of which like community and government services providers, transport and shops are all within walking distance from the flats.”

Avalon receives referrals and recommendations for accommodation from homeless support organisations such as Launch Housing, Cornerstone and ASCO.

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Carol Saffer

Carol Saffer is an award-winning journalist enthusiastic about creating copy that engages audiences. She is curious by nature, possesses a growth mindset and thrives on new and unusual challenges. Carol has experience as a reporter for various regional Victorian newspapers and writing for Business Day in The Age. Her previous career was in the fashion industry, and she holds post-graduate degrees in business and journalism.

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