Work has commenced on a new development in St Kilda that will provide a new form of ‘supported rooming housing’ for people who are not yet ready for residential aged care.

Known as Project 101, Sacred Heart Mission’s new ‘campus of care’ is the “most transformational building project” in Sacred Heart’s 35-year history, but also one of the Mission’s most unique ways of banding the community together,” acting chief executive Catherine Harris said.

The $27.3 million redevelopment will bring together five services including aged care, supported accommodation, allied health services, Women’s House and administration services to create a connected support hub.

“The demand (for extra accommodation) is significant, especially with aged care because the client group we see often don’t find it easy to live in standard aged care facilities,” Ms Harris said.

“There’s this real gap in available accommodation where people who have been living in rooming houses and public housing can’t handle living there by themselves anymore but they’re not quite ready for aged care.”

In addition to merging two existing aged care buildings, the redevelopment includes combining a 14-bed supported rooming house, an expanded clinic with three new consulting rooms that will deliver allied health services, a renovated and extended open-access Women’s House as well as an administration building that allows the centralization of administrative services for the Mission.

The addition of a “supported rooming house” will provide the missing link between boarding house and aged care accommodation, and will increase in beds from 73 to 107.

Aged care services offered by Sacred Heart Mission differ from other main services because they support people from a younger age and 95 per cent have a history of homelessness, significant disadvantage and complex needs.

Of the 105,000 Australians who are experiencing homeless, an estimated 21,000 are trapped in the cycles of long-term homelessness.

A fundraising campaign to help fund the development is half a million dollars off its target of $8 million, while both the Federal and State Governments have contributed $8.8m and $3.17m respectively.

“We like to criticise them but the Federal and State governments have come together for this, along with the community,” Ms Harris said.

“I think the way a community treats the most vulnerable people in it says a lot about them.”

“Tackling homelessness relies on the sustained generosity of donors and the talents of our capable staff and volunteers.”

“We have been touched by the overwhelming support we received from so many … it is a testament of the generosity of Melburnians and their compassion for those less fortunate.”

The project is expected to take four years to complete.