AS Homelessness Week kicked off, a Bendigo agency encouraged residents to raise a cup in support of people in need.
Specially branded reusable takeaway coffee cups will be available from the Bendigo Visitor Information Centre and six eateries.
Profits from the Keep Cup sales will fund programs helping people experiencing homelessness in the Loddon region.
Homelessness and affordable housing agency Haven; Home, Safe launched the fundraising initiative on Monday, to coincide with the start of Homelessness Week.
The week raises awareness of homelessness and the challenges people face.
Haven; Home, Safe helped more than 5000 people across the Loddon region experiencing housing-related crises last financial year.
Of those, more than 700 people said they were “sleeping rough”.
HHS spokeswoman Sue Masters said there had been little change on the figures from the previous year.
Reasons for seeking assistance included rental and financial stress and short term, overcrowded or unstable accommodation.
Ms Masters said domestic and family violence, financial stress, housing affordability and inadequate, inappropriate or unsafe housing were the top drivers of homelessness in the community.
“The Cup of Kindness campaign is an ongoing initiative so coffee lovers across the community can continue to do good and feel good, twice over,” she said.
The agency has backed a campaign calling on the federal government to help “end the housing crisis” by funding 100,000 new public and community housing properties in the next five years.
About 22,000 people in Victoria are without a home on any given night, according to the Victorian Council of Social Service.
“Homelessness is just the most obvious symptom of a housing market in crisis,” VCOSS chief executive officer Emma King said.
“It’s just not good enough that people are sleeping rough in backroads and caravan parks across central Victoria, or sleeping on friend’s couches.”
She backed the call for more social housing, adding that the government needed to do more to help people at risk of homelessness and quickly rehouse people who do find themselves in need.
“Local campaigns to fight homelessness are fantastic, but what we also need is systemic change,” Ms King said.
“The average price rent in Bendigo is nearly $300 a week, which is already more than a person receives on income support.
“So how is somebody on a low income meant to rent a home, buy food and get to work? It’s nearly impossible.
“Wages and welfare payments are stagnating just as rents and house prices are skyrocketing. It’s a toxic mix.”
Indulge Fine Belgian Chocolates was the first cafe to get involved in Cups of Kindness.
Chocolatier Hayley Tibbett said the campaign was for a worthy cause, and encouraged people to reduce waste.
Cups of Kindness are $15 and are also available at The Good Loaf, Cafe Roubaix, Percy & Percy, Cortille Cafe, and the Bendigo Visitor Centre.
Cups will be available from El Gordo from August 22.
Participating cafes will retain $3 from each purchase.
People can also order a Cup of Kindness online from the Haven; Home, Safe website.
HHS staff will be at Centrelink in Bendigo from 10am – 2pm on Wednesday to assist people with their inquiries.