There are 5985 people in South Australia experiencing homelessness. Nationwide, the number is 116,427. (The fastest growing group of homeless people are older women). And those figures are set to rise following the end of Jobkeeper, cuts to Jobseeker and the termination of moratoriums on evictions. They’re alarming stats, and the team behind Forage Built wants to do something about it.
The Adelaide initiative is a partnership between Forage Supply Co founders Scott Rogasch and Justin Westhoff, Tim Pearce of Frame Creative, Andrew Steele of Studio Nine Architects, and Zoe Steele of Tandem Building Group, who have designed a safe, transportable housing solution for people experiencing homelessness in South Australia.
A prototype – Calyx 16 (named after the protective layer around a flower bud) – was on display in Tasting Australia’s Town Square earlier this month, driving people to donate vital funds to assist with building more dwellings.
The goal is to set up “villages” on underused land such as dormant car parks and vacant lots waiting to be developed that can relocate to the next available block of land when need be. This will allow people to safely connect with others to form community, access services and find their way back into permanent housing.
“The whole concept is housing won’t solve homelessness but community will,” Rogasch tells Broadsheet. “So there’ll be case workers and services involved and it’ll be smaller cohorts [of community] – a women’s community, a youth community, people of similar interests – with communal areas and activity while there’s still a sense of privacy and security where people can lock up their gear and have that sense of home.
“There’s a similar concept in Canada and Social Bite in Scotland. The concept of community and housing isn’t new but the transportable [element], where they can be picked up and move to vacant blocks of land, I haven’t seen before.”
The petite pods will provide a modular 16-square-metre home complete with a bedroom, bathroom and kitchenette (plus a storage room and a porch). They’re made with all-recycled materials (largely plywood) and are energy efficient.
“The pods … have been carefully designed to ensure we aren’t just getting people off the streets, we are giving them hope through a dignified place they can call home,” says Rogasch. It’s what Hutt St Centre refers to as “homefulness”.
The team has partnered with Tasting Australia and the Hutt St Centre to raise awareness and funds to get the first village off the ground. (The prototype pod, built by Oxygen Building Group, cost around $80,000 and the team is working to try to reduce the cost to $50,000 per build.) While dependent on the size of land, each village would likely have four dwellings, one case worker and a communal area.
“The smaller cohorts would give people the correct amount of time with services and case workers,” says Rogasch. “We’re working on [regaining] people’s dignity and pride and sense of purpose and getting them back into society. So we’ll be getting them working in hospitality, doing barista courses, even constructing more pods, to make sure they’ve got a skill set.”
Tasting Australia festival director Simon Bryant – who has previously worked with Hutt St Centre – was instrumental in formalising the partnership.
“I’m so proud to see the festival officially linked to these community partners who work so hard on a strategic long-term level to help people achieve the basic human right of safe and dignified housing,” says Bryant. He and other Tasting Australia chefs will provide Hutt St Centre clientele a lunch on Tuesday May 11 using unused food and produce from the festival.
Another festival partner, Yalumba, has launched a “homefulness” grenache 12-pack, which you can pre-order now, and all profits will go towards building a pod. You can also donate at the Hutt St Centre website to help the project reach its $80,000 target.