A groundbreaking deal has been struck on a housing project aimed at tackling homelessness in Melbourne’s west.

Not-for-profit agency Launch Housing has applied to locate 57 one-bedroom townhouses across nine land parcels in Footscray and Maidstone.

The relocatable homes would be set on VicRoads land in a $5 million project under- pinned by a $4 million donation from businessmen Geoff and Brad Harris.

The vacant land has been reserved for the possible future widening of Ballarat Road.

Launch Housing deputy chief executive officer Heather Holst said the project could serve as a pilot for addressing the need to house people experiencing homelessness.

“It certainly is an exciting opportunity, not only because it provides 57 units for single people in well-designed accommodation but also as the start of a bigger roll-out of housing in other well-located areas.”

While concerns have been raised on social media about the suitability of the location and the “clustering” of the homes, Ms Holst said people’s fears about housing for the homeless rarely eventuated. “People who have lost their home know the value of a home,” she said.

Brad Harris said he and his father were putting up the money as they saw homelessness as one of Melbourne’s biggest issues. “It appealed because of the vast number of dwellings involved but also the scale – getting the most number of people off the street.

Mr Harris said he was also attracted to the quality of the design and build of the units, which can be prefabricated at the rate of one per day at a cost of about $80,000 each.

He said situating the homes across nine locations should help allay fears of people experiencing difficulty being clustered together.

Acting Roads Minister Philip Dalidakis said the partnership would help those most in need in the community.

VicRoads director Adrian Tufful said the land is not anticipated to be required for more than ten years.

“This is a unique and innovative collaboration which aims to provide affordable housing for the community.”

Maribyrnong Council director of planning services Nigel Higgins said two of the nine applications had been approved, and up to five objections had been lodged for each application.

“Applications will follow due process and a timeframe can’t be pre-empted, but council is committed to a full and proper process for each application.” A community meeting about the project will be held in coming weeks.