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Tackling homelessness from a real estate perspective

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We’ve all seen homeless people as we go about our daily lives and most, if not all of us, have wondered at some point how they got to this point. But sadly, few people contemplate the ways we can actively help the homeless community, and even fewer take action.

That’s not the case with Harcourts Packham – an Adelaide-based real estate office with three locations in the city’s south. The agency that specialises in finding properties with grand or innovative future potential recently nabbed an old backpacker’s hostel to repurpose for South Australians at risk of homelessness. This is inspiring to say the least!

Since its purchase, the building was redeveloped into a short-term accommodation facility, making use of features such as an industrial kitchen, 11 bedrooms fit with electronic locks and sufficient outdoor space. This shared living facility is now host to people in need of an opportunity that will help them get back on their feet and avoid becoming another statistic.

Singles and couples aged 45 and over who are at risk of homelessness are offered up to 12 weeks in this specialised housing setup, which is a reasonable period of time to help South Australians return to stability with safe and reliable long-term accommodation on the horizon. What an innovative use of an already existing property.

Your first thought may be “Only 3 months? Why not accommodate these people indefinitely?” But listen. If you’ve ever been under immense pressure, you’ll know how difficult it is to sort through your mental ‘to do’ list – especially when emotions are high.

What I love about this project is the ‘residents’ who are on the verge of homelessness can use this time to clear their heads, plan their next move, seek guided assistance, and focus on their job hunt to get them back on track – with a clear timeframe to work towards. To me, that’s holistic thinking.

Homelessness is no joke, and when you’re faced with an ultimatum to keep a roof over your head, you face up to it by focussing on what is most important. I understand this personally, having been a homeless teen and young adult. So, to be granted 3 months of accommodation at the newly named ‘Terra Firma’ (meaning ‘solid ground’), these residents are getting the best boost they could possibly receive to keep them off the streets.

James Packham – director of Harcourts Packham isn’t stopping at property development, though. Knowing that there is a multitude of organisation, bargaining, planning, forward-thinking and networking required when you’re on the verge of poverty, Packham is utilising his staffs’ best assets to assist these at-risk Aussies to transition to longer-term housing by giving them the references they need to find a new home and using their database to attract the interest of investors who may want to lease their properties to the residents.

The Adelaide team maintain strong support networks throughout the country to address the growing issue of homelessness because, like me, they know that homelessness is a circumstance that doesn’t discriminate. You can be on top of the world, living your best life without a care in the world – and all it takes is a sick family member, a broken relationship, job loss or other setbacks to send you into financial despair.

Much like our team here at Kitty & Miles, Harcourts Packham is proving they are a values-driven company. The Terra Firma project speaks to the agency’s values of ‘doing the right thing’ and ‘putting people first’ –much in line with our core values here at Kitty & Miles: those being integrity, passion, bravery, and empathy. So, this is definitely an initiative we can get on board with!

The accommodation is already at full capacity, but amazingly, several residents have already transitioned to long-term housing following their stay in this facility. This is such a wonderful outcome and the warm and fuzzies are in full bloom here.

We need more compassion in the real estate industry, and we need it now. At Kitty & Miles, we provide honest, relatable, and trustworthy assistance to all of our clients, and pride ourselves on being inclusive of all buyers’ regardless of their culture, circumstance, background, or beliefs.

At the end of the day, we feel our job extends far beyond helping you as a client. We believe it is our responsibility to help you also as a fellow human being in need of advocacy.

My hope is that, as the Director of Kitty & Miles, I can assist in actioning initiatives for the homeless like Terra Firma in the future. Paying it forward is 100% where it’s at. Congratulations Harcourts Packham for being a team of such great human beings.

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