A new 42-bed residential home for older people experiencing homelessness has been approved for the inner-Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst.

The home is the brainchild of HammondCare, a Christian aged-care provider in NSW, and will be built next door to St John’s Anglican Church on Darlinghurst Road.

“Darlinghurst has the highest number of older homeless people in Australia,” said Stephen Judd, chief executive of HammondCare.

“And there are a significant number of homeless women in that group.”

St John’s has supported local homeless men and women for more than three decades through the ministry of Rough Edges, which is described on its website as “a lounge room for street people, a safe place for people on the streets. It’s an open door for absolutely anyone to come in and experience hospitality.”

The planned building will extend the ability of the Darlinghurst community to love and help the homeless population of inner Sydney.

After development, the site, which currently hosts a car wash, will provide residential accommodation in private rooms for both men and women who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness.

“We don’t see a distinction between telling people the good news about Jesus and healing the sick. In the gospels, Jesus did both.” – Stephen Judd

While the home will not specifically target rough sleepers with dementia, it will include specialist services for people with high-care needs.

“People have stereotypes about who the aged homeless are,” said Judd. “But typically, they have worked most of their lives, maybe not in the same job, but they have worked. They’ve probably lived in private accommodations. They have fairly poor formal and informal networks, and there’s probably relationship breakdown. They don’t have truckloads of friends and family around, and if they do they’re not usually functional. In Australia, they’re also probably not great at managing their finances. And there is substance abuse, but only at two or three times the community norms.

“Our motivation is to show the love of God to his creation, regardless of whether they’re rich or poor. And we don’t see a distinction between telling people the good news about Jesus and healing the sick. In the gospels, Jesus did both.”

“My objective is that there will be ten such services here over the next decade.” – Stephen Judd

Pointing out that Melbourne was miles ahead in providing for the aged homeless, Judd said, “My objective is that there will be ten such services here over the next decade.”

In 2016, Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore committed $1.5 million to the project, contingent on the Development Application (DA) being approved by May 2017.

In late February Councillor Philip Thalis sought to delay the approval process because, according to a press release from the Liberal Councillors, he “objects to the fine details.” But Thalis was unsuccessful, with the DA being approved unanimously by City of Sydney Councillors on Monday 27 February.

HammondCare is hoping to begin construction as soon as possible, with the aim of having the home operational by mid-2018. It is seeking ongoing financial support for the project.

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