Two champions of the homeless have launched a campaign to "buy, borrow or steal" a motel that could be used to provide desperately needed crisis accommodation on the NSW/ Victoria Border.
Kate Young and Mason Edstrom started the Maynard House Crisis Accommodation GoFundMe project on Friday; their mission "to help the most vulnerable members of our society".
The pair's goal is to own or lease a motel they can devote completely to supporting the homeless by providing manageable accommodation, a sense of community and links to services that enhance the quality of life for individuals.
"We are in an extreme situation currently as a nation due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and the availability of suitable accommodation ... is at an all-time low," says Kate, who rescued a young homeless man called Les off the streets four years ago.
"We see there is real opportunity in a model that offers affordable motel-style rooms on a weekly basis to provide a safe house until long-term availability is found.
"Our goal is to own a motel we can devote completely to the vulnerable."
So, if anyone out there has a vacant building going to waste, now's your chance to make a difference to changing the lives of the people society has left behind.
The tenacious hairdressing salon owner has been on a roller-coaster ride trying to navigate an unwieldy system and help mend a broken soul.
Since then she's met countless others with devastating stories of their own, lost in a desolate space with no home and no hope.
Thanks to her journey with Les she has learned - the hard way - what it takes to get just one person off the streets.
It takes more than platitudes and politicians' waffle.
It's not for the faint-hearted.
But together with Mason, the director of Youth Abilities Community Support Services and Les's "life-changing" support worker, Kate believes there are solutions to be found.
And certainly solutions worth pursuing.
Mason currently works closely with two young people who have experienced homelessness and without support would still be sleeping rough.
The critical shortage of affordable housing has forced the few who can scrape the money together into motel accommodation - currently that rate is about $500 a week.
It's not a viable option for many.
But actually it's a model that works - if it was affordable, the pair argue.
Motel-style accommodation is manageable and provides a community where people live together - but separate.
That's particularly pertinent when there can be drug and alcohol-related issues, undiagnosed or untreated mental health problems, and even criminal histories among those experiencing homelessness.
But that doesn't mean they don't have the right to a safe place to call home.
"This fundraiser is our beginning to be able to assist more people and to start the process of owning a private property that the homeless can afford," Kate says.
"Both state and federal governments are failing our homeless ... people are falling through the cracks and the money is not being spent in the right place.
"There's a water park proposed for Noreuil Park Albury while people are sleeping under the barbecue shelters in the same park.
"Something's not right with our humanity."
Kate says when our own prime minister preaches that protection for those on social welfare (and the like) should come from community not the state "it's blatantly clear our governments couldn't give a stuff about under-privileged people".
"We believe a motel model is the way forward for many who otherwise face a life of inequality in harsh living environments stripping away their identity and self worth," she says.
- Donate to the Maynard House Crisis Accommodation project here