New haven for central Victorian homelessness service | Photos, video

THE dirt flying through the air at an unremarkable-looking lot in Huntly on Thursday signified the start of something special for Haven Home Safe.

The first sod was turned on a charity house to raise money for the Bendigo-based homelessness services and housing provider. 

JG King Homes, Viewpoint Estate land developer Integra and PRDnationwide real estate have collaborated to build the four-bedroom family home, which will be sold privately as a house and land package.

Profits will fund Haven Home Safe’s life skills and education program at the Sidney Myer Haven, which combines a 23-unit residential complex with an intensive development program intended to help residents become more valuable and engaged community members.

“What we’ve done [at the Sidney Myer Haven] is created what we think is a world first,” Haven Home Safe chief executive Ken Marchingo said.

“It’s a medium term transitional housing facility with on-site support in a gated community for people who are homeless… [and] already in our system.”

About 17 families have moved into the premises at Somerville Street, formerly the Paynting’s nursery site.

They are subject to 24-hour supervision and assigned a worker to help them through the program.

Mr Marchingo said the residents were selected because they showed promise of being able to turn their lives around, despite being at risk of becoming ‘frequent flyers’ within the service.

They were assessed for their drive, motivation and commitment to reach the program’s goals, which include moving into suitable accommodation in the public or private sector within 24 months of their tenure at Sidney Myer Haven.

“What we are trying to do is fatten up their skills base, so as we work with them in this high quality residential housing development, we work with them to change their trajectory,” Mr Marchingo said.

He hoped people graduating from Sidney Myer Haven would be equipped with the education, skills and jobs they would need to ‘really take their place in the community’. 

There is no recurrent funding for the initiative.

“The government often funds short term support for people in crisis – longer term support is just absent,” Mr Marchingo said.

“We can harness the goodwill of the community, the benefits of having an almost $300 million balance sheet, 150 staff spread around seven offices throughout Victoria and do something in our home town.”

He welcomed the start of construction and praised the generosity of all involved.

“The developers have made a block of land available to us at less than cost price, which is extraordinarily generous,” Mr Marchingo said.

He said the project also spoke volumes about the charity’s relationship with JG King Homes, ‘who have built more than 500 homes for us in recent years.’

JG King Homes have added $55,000 worth of upgrades and extras to the charity house, which PRDnationwide’s Tom Isaacs will market and sell pro bono once construction is finished in October.

JG King Homes founder John King Senior hoped the initiative would raise a significant amount for the cause.

“We feel this charitable initiative is a most positive way to actively demonstrate our ongoing support for Haven Home Safe, and at the same time it will provide a fabulous new home for a fortunate family in the coming months,” he said.

“We have negotiated agreements with selected JG King Homes’ suppliers and trades who either gift a monetary amount or supply discounted materials to assist with the construction of the home,” he said.

The house chosen by JG King Homes for the project is the H7 from the Up collection.

It is a single storey, contemporary home.

Key features include a spacious master suite, two formal living areas and a double car garage.