I can’t see the future more than anyone else, but for the Property Industry Foundation, I am fortunate to already know what the best moments will be in 2023. Every year the highlights are when we open a house and the young people that we support see the final product – a place that they can call home. Their faces are alight with happiness and a sense of incredulity that a group of people they don’t know, that they will never know, would give so much to see them in a safe and secure environment.
Similarly, every individual and company that is involved in building one of our homes, tells me the same tale – that taking part in a project that so evidently helps others was the best moment of their year too.
This year, where we plan to commence at least 16 new bedrooms, I can safely predict these moments. Every bedroom we build, every home that we bring into being has a ripple effect. At the centre of the ripple is the young person in a safe and secure home, but as the ripple expands it touches their kin, their friends, their neighbours until eventually – I hope – that ripple touches you.
Last year we created an extra 15 bedrooms for homeless youth with 6 new bedrooms in Victoria, another 6 in New South Wales and 3 in Queensland. A growing number of the bedrooms we build are for young mothers with children where the security we provide creates an opportunity to break the cycle of disadvantage. One of the homes we built last year shone a light on this. We were shown a two-bedroom house that had been unoccupied for 5 years and was no longer habitable and brought it back to life with your support. As soon as it was finished a young mother with a two-week old baby moved in. A new home for a new life – what could be more perfect than that?
This year we have a confirmed pipeline of 16 bedrooms and room for some smaller projects as we find them. A particular highlight for this year will be our first regional project in Victoria with 3 2-bedroom apartments planned in Shepparton for young mothers and children. When these 16 bedrooms are complete, we will have built 254 bedrooms, with 125 built since 2018. Our target is to get to 300 bedrooms by the end of 2025 and we have some big projects in our pipeline to get there.
Building homes for homeless youth is not fast work and there is no quick and easy solution to the problem. We are very clear at the Foundation that the property and construction industries’ part is to have an out-sized impact on the built environment for youth homelessness. We need to build more homes, improve outreach centres and the working environment of the hundreds of frontline charities. Our first win this year has been one of our supporters building cupboards in the pantry for a small charity in Sydney. This entirely volunteer-run organisation distributes free breakfasts in the CBD during the week from the side of a church. It’s not set up to be a food distribution centre, the storage was chaotic, and we’ve been able to solve that. It’s probably the smallest project we will do all year, but for that organisation it’s of huge benefit.
We have big plans this year and I want to thank you in advance for the support you will show us. All three states have exciting initiatives, but can I make a particular call out to our supporters in Queensland to keep an eye on what we do this year? It is our 10th year in Queensland, and we have an exciting and new events portfolio including a sleepout event where you sleep in your car and instead of the Tour de PIF, we will be doing Pedal for Homelessness, a stationary bike event in Queen Street Mall.
The Foundation is fortunate to have so many supporters that I can’t list them all here, but I hope you know who you are. The other side of that is that as a community we are also fortunate to have the Foundation as a platform for change. There are very few industries that seek to come together in this way to have an impact on disadvantage. The Foundation is a unique organisation and as an industry, you should be proud to have created it.
The Foundation is powered by connection and community. While our output is for homeless youth, the input is your support. Put simply, the more of you we can connect with and the more we can connect you to each other and to the problem, the more we can have impact. In 2023, let’s connect to create the best moments of the year.