A HALFWAY house at the top of Mitchell Street has closed and is unlikely to resume the role as a refuge or source of affordable accommodation in Bendigo without work to make it comply with registered standards.
The property at 117 Mitchell Street is owned by the Department of Health and Human Services, and has been a rooming house for more than 25 years.
The department has said the house is not for sale, but local real estate agents in Bendigo have the building on their radar, given its prime location and size.
The heritage building has 12 bedrooms and is in a precinct prized for its proximity to the Bendigo Railway Station, retailers and within walking distance of the city centre.
It looks down over Bendigo’s central heritage buildings.
“The department is in the process of assessing the future use of the property, since the contract with Community Housing Victoria Limited ended in July,” a DHHS spokesperson said.
“The property at 117 Mitchell Street, Bendigo, is not currently for sale.”
Community Housing Victoria is a not-for-profit manager of housing services in Australia, Chile and East Timor.
Shari McPhail, the organisation’s Victorian manager, confirmed it had managed the Mitchell Street house for more than two decades.
“Community Housing Ltd was the long-term manager of this rooming house on behalf of DHHS which has been a fantastic resource for the local community for over two decades,” Ms McPhail said.
“Over time it has needed to have significant refurbishment to bring it up to standard to retain it as a rooming house and we handed it back to the Director of Housing as it no longer met habitation standards.”
There is a public register that lists all rooming houses within a local government area that comply with minimum standards for privacy, security, safety and amenity, and tenants are advised to check that a rooming house is registered before signing an agreement or moving in.
A rooming house is a building where one or more rooms are available to rent, and four or more people in total can occupy those rooms.
“The decision whether to invest such resources for refurbishment or to sell and re-invest in other housing is with the owner, the Director of Housing,” Ms McPhail said.
“We are not aware of the sale of the said property but we hope that the government would make an investment in replacing it with new social housing in Bendigo that would be a great outcome for the local community and the wider Bendigo region.
“We have an ongoing relationship with the department and would be open to working with them on possible solutions.”