Council reaches 75pc target for housing initiative

Fifty studio apartments will be built into 602 Little Bourke Street.

Philanthropic arms of names familiar to the property sector – Erdi Foundation and the Hansen Little Foundation – have donated $650,000 to the City of Melbourne’s Make Room initiative to repurpose a rundown Little Bourke Street building as apartments for people experiencing homelessness.

With the grants, council has raised $14.5 million of its $20m target to complete the project, with 50 studios over five levels.

Other contributors are the Ian Potter Foundation, Gandel Foundation, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, PwC Australia and state government which is providing a wraparound mortgage.

Paul Little and Jane Hansen.

Make Room will also include commercial areas for social enterprise groups on the ground floor and basement.

Erdi Foundation chief executive officer Simone Szalmuk-Singer said “as a leading Jewish foundation committed to strengthening community and addressing disadvantage, the Erdi Foundation is proud to collaborate with the philanthropic sector in funding this initiative and hopes that many others will join us in empowering this vital project”.

Hansen Little Foundation founder and CEO, Jane Hansen, added accommodation and support is critical for improving lives.

“Equally important is ensuring a pathway from homelessness into longer term housing to help create permanent solutions,” according to the executive.

Make Room

The Erdi Foundation and Hansen Little Foundation donations will fund the fit-out of 10 Make Room dwellings.

“Early works have already commenced, with structural work to begin in June 2023,” the council said (story continues below).

“Make Room has already reached a number of key milestones including the signing of an agreement for lease with Unison Housing and the appointment of Harris HMC as the early works contractor,” it added.

“Make Room is being delivered by Homes Australia, a special entity of the City of Melbourne, created in early 2022 to reduce homelessness and increase safe, secure and affordable housing in our city,” according to council.

Homelessness causes many and varied: council

Make Room is scheduled to open in mid-2024.

“Every step forward in the…project is advancing the right to housing in Melbourne,’ according to CoM Health, Wellbeing and Belonging lead councillor Dr Olivia Ball.

“It is so vital people have housing first, giving them a chance to address the causes of homelessness, which are many and varied,” she added.

In 2019, the Hansen Little Foundation, which is also directed by businessman Paul Little, donated $30m to construct a Carlton student accommodation complex, with revenue to fund a University of Melbourne student scholarship program.

Erdi Foundation is the charitable arm of late property developer Les Erdi.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of