A space for the CBD’s homeless to stay overnight will re-open just in time for winter.
The Night Time Safe Space, located in the Salvation Army’s Hamodava Cafe on Bourke St will open its doors from 11pm – 7am every night from the end of May and provide a safe, indoor location for rough sleepers to spend the night.
The $300,000 service is part of City of Melbourne’s $2 million package of homelessness initiatives.
The re-opening follows a highly successful 20-week pilot program, beginning in June last year.
The space will operate for a minimum of 250 days. Following the 250 days, a council review will be conducted to determine the future of the program.
Trevor Wulf was a volunteer with the pilot program and is now the day-time manager of Hamodava Cafe.
Mr Wulf said that last year, an average of 75-85 rough sleepers used the space. He expects to see a few familiar faces over the coming months.
“There’s been a lot of people asking when it will open already. They’re looking forward to it being open again,” he said.
The Night Time Safe Space provides free coffee and toasted sandwiches for rough sleepers. All food is donated, including the coffee machine that was gifted from 7/11.
The only cost at the Night Time Safe Space are cans of coke, which Mr Wulf said were more popular amongst rough sleepers than water. Cans are just one dollar and the cost covers the purchase of the next carton.
Donated materials such as yoga mats and blankets will also be available for rough sleepers in the Night Time Safe Space. DVDs will be on show and board games will be available too.
Salvation Army Major Brendan Nottle hopes the space will help see a decrease in rough sleepers on CBD streets, compared with the 247 that were counted by council this time last year.
Major Nottle said the space would be a first step for many rough sleepers.
“They may not be ready to move into accommodation or they may have had bad experiences in accommodation that they’ve been provided with before. This program actually gets them into a safe space which is dry and well-supervised,” he said.
“Our workers, along with council’s new daily support team will actually go in and help them try and find suitable long-term accommodation as well.”
Many rough sleepers also use the space to escape isolation. The cafe setting allows them to engage in conversation and connect with other people, something both Mr Wulf and Major Nottle agreed was crucial for people experiencing homelessness.
“The only downside to the safe space is that we have to close it and ask people to leave in the morning so that we can clean it and open the cafe,” Mr Wulf said.