The St Vincent de Paul Society Tasmania celebrated the opening of the newly constructed Bethlehem House in Harrington Street, North Hobart on 17 November, with this component of the site now able to assist up to 50 men who are experiencing homelessness.
Image: Bethlehem House Executive Manager Stephen Shreeve, The Hon Nic Street MHA, Tasmanian Minister for Housing and Construction (cutting ribbon), Homes Tasmania CEO Eleri Morgan-Thomas, St Vincent de Paul Society Tasmania CEO Heather Kent, The Hon Julie Collins Federal Minister for Housing.
The facility, built by Fairbrother Constructions for Homes Tasmania and leased by the Society, is on the site of the old Waratah Hotel car park and includes light and spacious accommodation, meeting rooms, a rooftop garden area and a workshop in the basement.
Bethlehem House Executive Manager, Stephen Shreeve, said the new facility has opened up many opportunities to further enhance the variety of programs that benefit residents’ journey toward independence, attaining financial and social stability.
‘A new building not only provides a fresh new place to live, it tells our men they are valued, which goes towards restoring their dignity and provides hope,’ he said.
‘Many of the facility’s new areas, especially the onsite workshop and kitchens, will aid residents’ skills development and support the recently launched Employability Program.
‘We now also have the ability to accommodate men with dogs, as three kennels have also been located within the boundary of the new property.’
The new facility will also include a café open to residents and visitors which will encourage better connections with family and important support networks.
In taking a future-focused view, the purpose-built site offers scope for additional support to those experiencing increased vulnerability, with the inclusion of a secure wing on level one should this be required. Local architect, Tim Penny, has been pivotal in working with Bethlehem House and Homes Tasmania to ensure that the site affords suitable accommodation for at least the next fifty years.
The Society’s Chief Executive Officer, Heather Kent, said this was a significant moment in the Society’s local history, given that the first Bethlehem House was established in 1972, just over 50 years ago.
'We are Tasmania’s largest provider of crisis and transitional accommodation for men experiencing homelessness and this new facility allows us to provide greater assistance to those men in Hobart seeking help to establish a new chapter in life,’ Ms Kent said.
‘We will lease the building from Homes Tasmania, demonstrating the vital importance of collaboration. Projects of this scale simply cannot be undertaken without the investment and ongoing assistance of Homes Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government - for this we are extremely grateful.’
The new facility is adjacent to another site in Murray Street, the former Waratah Hotel, which is home to a further 24 men under the Society’s Bethlehem House program.