Sydney's Addison Hotel Opens Its Doors To Homeless Youth In Australian First

Sydney's Addison Hotel Opens Its Doors To Homeless Youth In Australian First

The Addison Hotel will get young people off the streets and into safe accommodation. 


Using an empty building to house the homeless ... it is a pretty obvious idea but one that has never taken off in Australia.

For the first time, a vacant hotel just out of the Sydney CBD has opened its doors to young people who do not have a roof over their head.

The Addison Hotel in Kensington was destined to lie dormant for the next year while a development plan awaits approval, but the building owner saw an opportunity to accommodate those on the street.

The hotel will be a place of refuge for people needing crisis accommodation or just a safe place to live and study while they stabilise their circumstances.

Building owner TOGA is providing the 42 fully-furnished rooms, each with their own bathroom and kitchenette, revenue free and hopes other property owners follow suit.


Managing director Allan Vidor said there were many empty buildings across Sydney that could be immediately available to the homeless.

"We had this empty building sitting here and we thought there has got to be something we can do with it that will create some good," he said.

"No single level of government or service can tackle youth homelessness — innovative solutions must be borne from innovative collaborations between public and private sectors.   "Everyone deserves the opportunity to have housing."

A one-stop shop

As well as a place to call home, those staying will have their best chance to get back on their feet with free access to food, clothes and laundry facilities.

A 'take what you need, pay what you can' supermarket run by OzHarvest has been set up in the lobby and will only stock rescued food.

A clothing rescue service, Thread Together, has also opened next to the hotel and provides brand new clothing to those doing it tough.

OzHarvest kitchen at The Addison
The rescued food supermarket run by OzHarvest has been set up in the hotel's lobby. 


Orange Sky Laundry, the world's first mobile laundry service, will visit The Addison once a week to offer its free services.

It is an all-encompassing set up which is aimed at restoring dignity to young people who are faced with issues such as unemployment, family breakdown and mental illness.

Critics have raised concerns putting young people together in a facility is a big risk with anti-social behaviour likely, however those behind The Addison Project actually believe the opposite.

Orange Sky Laundry set up at The Addison
Those taking refuge at The Addison will be able to Orange Sky Laundry facilities once a week.


"We don't share the view that it's a risk," said Rebecca Mullins, chief executive of My Foundations Youth Housing, who are managing the accommodation.

"We believe young people together are able to support each other and understand what they are going through."

Professor David MacKenzie, researcher on homelessness with Swinburne University, said the negative stereotype that youth would cause trouble needed to be quashed.

"I have a lot more faith in young people," he said. "They can do a lot more positive things than negative."

Social housing allocated to very few youth

Forty-three per cent of Australia's homeless population is under 25 years old, and in New South Wales, young people hold less than 2 per cent of the 140,000 social housing tenancies.

Room in The Addison
There are 42 rooms now open for those needing crisis accommodation or temporary shelter.


Many have their access to education and training cut off and one in six are on their own.

Professor MacKenzie said 'pop-up' shelter idea was innovative and important.

"We need early intervention and rapid rehousing ... we don't actually have a youth housing sector housing in Australia," he said.

"We shouldn't have homelessness in Australia, not in a country like this."

When a young person becomes homeless it costs $15,000 per person per year in health and justice services, he said.

So far, 56 household groups, either singles or women with children, have come through The Addison and have been provided with 511 nights of accommodation since opening at the end of January.

Family and Community Services (FACS) has control over 14 of the rooms for emergency accommodation for up to 28 days, and the remaining 28 rooms are affordable transitional accommodation and $150 a week.

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