Aside from a bed in an underground parking facility, Australian charity Beddown provides their guests with services such as doctors, nurses, dentists, hairdressers and showers, along with meals donated by local restaurants.
Aussie Charity turns empty car parks into homeless shelters at night
Homelessness is a growing social issue almost everywhere, and it’s no exception in Australia, where 8,000 people sleep rough every night and over 116,000 are homeless. Now one charity, Beddown, is hoping to help alleviate Australia’s homeless situation by providing pop-up accommodation solutions for the vulnerable. One of their solutions is to utilise places that are usually empty at night—such as the underground car parking spaces of office blocks—and turn them into safe and warm places for people to sleep.
According to the charity, the trial was a huge success.
Here are some statistics:
- 41 guests used Beddown over the duration of the pilot.
- 77% of them were male and 23% were female.
- The guests rated the sleep 4.5 out of 5 and the beds 4.5 out of 5 on average.
- 100% of the guests said they felt safe during their stay.
- Due to overcapacity, 9 people were turned away in one night.
- The youngest person who tried to access Beddown was just 15 years old.
“It was great to start bringing the Beddown vision to life last night with a group of our awesome volunteers for the Dry Run. Thank you to our awesome group of volunteers who came in late on a Saturday night to help us trial and set-up some beds. Although as expected we had a few challenges to overcome, it was awesome to start bringing Beddown to life," the charity added in a further post.
"Beddown will provide an immediate response for those who sleep rough to access safe, secure shelter and access to a comfy bed and a great night’s sleep. We will work with our other collaborative partners to provide long term solutions to transition our guests into accommodation, education and employment opportunities and ultimately put ourselves out of business (this is the vision).”
According to 7News, Beddown have since partnered with Secure Parking, giving them access to 600 car parks around the country.
"We are partnering with Australia’s largest car park operator, Secure Parking, who operate over 600 car parks across Australia and New Zealand," the charity’s website said.
“Nothing is going to stop me now to bringing Beddown to as many people across Australia as possible," founder Norman McGillivray added.
The charity is currently seeking further funding and sponsorship to take the idea nationwide. They have no shortage of volunteers, and there’s currently a waiting list. More info: beddown.org.au | Instagram | Facebook
Not everyone is so enthusiastic about the scheme
Cameron Parsell, Associate Professor, School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, writes:
‘Providing mattresses in car parks may make volunteers and the public feel good, but we have to recognise that people who are homeless access this resource as charity recipients, who may feel inferior, especially when they cannot reciprocate.
If we don’t provide enough access to housing, one of the consequences is that people who are homeless become dependent on the goodwill of volunteers who provide bedding and washing facilities.
Rough sleepers need to be seen as people who require housing to enable them to control the conditions of their lives. Charities and their motivated volunteers are well positioned to innovate and push governments to do what they have otherwise been unwilling to do: create housing for all Australians.’
To be sure not to take Professor Parsell’s comments out of context, you can read his full article here, where he offers workable solutions to Australia’s homelessness situation.
Pop-up homeless shelters in underground car parks is not the final answer by any means, but until there is a bigger change in how society views homelessness, it’s causes and it’s solutions, this initiative will help alleviate the immediate suffering of a growing number of individuals.
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