The complexity of homelessness and what we can do as an industry

The complexity of homelessness and what we can do as an industry


In October, I went to Brisbane for the Property Industry Foundation Gala Dinner and heard a young woman speak about her experiences of homelessness. Two things struck me – one, the prevalence of ‘hidden’ homelessness where you are not necessarily on the street but you are one step from it, surfing from couch to couch with your belongings. This woman, who was pregnant at the time, would get two weeks here or there from friends and family. I kept thinking how it must feel to be in a house where you were counting down the days until you would have to leave and yet not knowing where you would go next. The other point that struck me was how it was an unfortunate series of events that brought her to this point. Any one of these events on its own – a dysfunctional home, an accidental pregnancy, the loss of a job, unforeseen medical issues – might be overcome, but when they happen one after the other you can fall into a pit that is not of your own making.  


Fortunately, this woman refused to let this unfortunate series of events get the better of her. Thinking of her baby, she got on the phone and called every charity or agency she could think of and eventually Brisbane Youth Service, one of our Charity Partners, was able to respond and find her some accommodation. Up until then every other agency she approached was sympathetic, but had no accommodation available.  


That’s the space that the PIF House Program (where we bring together charities and property companies to build accommodations for youth homelessness) has a part to play. Since I have started in this role people have come up to me excited at the opportunity to solve homelessness. I have to dampen them down – I don’t think that any one agency/organization can solve homelessness as the causes are so complex, but I do think that if the property industry comes together and collaborates there’s a chance that we could move the dial on one small part of the problem – the availability of accommodation for some of the most vulnerable in our society. You can read more about the PIF House Program here. 


Now of course this program isn’t possible without funding and here at the Foundation we are always thinking up fun and engaging ways to raise money. This month our National Hard Hat Campaign culminatesthis started as barbeques and events on construction sites to raise money, but it has quickly spread into a campaign where employers come up with campaigns that both engage their staff and raise money. So far, 34 companies are participating. There’s a whole range of activities including movie night, flower auction, the popular site BBQs – and, possibly my favorite one of all – construction company Chalouhi with a truck in the Foundation branding, donating funds for each kilometer the truck travels. If you have time this week to do something fun at work that could raise money then please send me an email to let me know what you have in mind, or if you just want to have a chat about some potential ideas for Hard Hat. 

It’s been a huge month at the Foundation with the Brisbane Gala Dinner (with an excellent woodland theme!), Hard Hat and also the Sydney Tour de PIF where nearly 600 cyclists and walkers raised over $350,000. We were delighted with all the activity and are both pleased and grateful that so many of you got on your bike or walked for charity. I hope it made you feel like you were part of something big!