A chorus of concern is building against a project which will provide housing to the homeless in Footscray and Maidstone.
Not-for-profit agency Launch Housing is seeking to provide 57 new relocatable one-bedroom townhouses across nine VicRoads-owned land parcels along a two- kilometre stretch of Ballarat Road.
While some residents have thrown their support behind the $5 million proposal, others fear the project provides too little parking and poor waste disposal, while it could devalue surrounding properties and have an unwelcome social impact.
A neighbouring resident, who asked not to be named, said his concerns were around violence and drugs – issues which have been cited in an anonymous letterbox drop in the area.
“No matter how much Launch Housing tries to paper over the community’s concern with the social issues these developments represent, they are real and frightening,” he said.
“To congregate 57 of these houses in such a small radius, in a tiny pocket of Footscray, is poor and irresponsible planning by the council and Launch Housing.”
Another objector said the plans were deceptive, with too little parking, and Footscray already had a large amount of public housing.
“We residents feel that we are part of a social experiment,” the objector added. “We are sure that some homeless people are perfectly nice people who have fallen on hard times, but we are also not naive to the fact that many homeless people have issues with drugs, alcohol, mental illness and criminal activity.”
A third objector said the staggered way individual properties were revealed left residents unable to understand the complete picture until some permits had already been passed. One resident complained that the sites would have the appearance of trailer camps.
A Launch Housing spokeswoman said parking concerns are being addressed by planning experts, while regular inspections will be carried to ensure small mezzanine storage spaces are not being used for accommodation.
The spokeswoman said Launch Housing had already developed projects of this scale and had evidence that they worked well.
“The character of the people housed by this project is not subject to planning approval,” she said.
“Around 95 per cent of people who are either at risk of homelessness or experiencing homelessness have no need for support or access to other services.
“They are homeless purely as a result of the lack of secure and affordable housing in Melbourne.”
Three of the sites have received the approval of Maribyrnong council, while six remain under consideration.