Jessica Pearce first encountered the city’s homeless problem when she was staying at a hotel over Christmas. According to ABC News, Pearce didn’t realize how bad the problem was, “I guess we felt shocked and I suppose a bit guilty, we didn’t realise how bad the housing situation in Melbourne was… The streets were lined with people sleeping on mattresses or on the ground.” That night, Pearce and her partner walked through the streets and met a number of homeless people. They learned about their circumstances and even gave them $50 and $20 bills.
According to ABC News. One man’s story, in particular, stuck a chord with Pearce. “He had a two- and a three-year-old who were staying with his ex-partner and he wasn’t going to have access to them because he didn’t have somewhere to live” So, Pearce and her partner offered to bring the man back to their hotel to sleep for two nights. They didn’t stop there, and ended up putting the man up in a motel for a month. Touched by the experience, Pearce knew she could do more to help. Having just finished paying off her mortgage, Pearce was looking to purchase an investment property in inner Melbourne.
However, she realized that if she looked in cheaper areas, she could purchase 4 properties for the same price as 1 property in inner Melbourne. These properties, which she purchased “all about three or four days apart from each other,” will provide housing to struggling people. Pearce will offer housing on both a short term and long term basis, depending on the situation.
Pearce is still in the process of working with government organizations to figure out how to best maintain the housing situation. Although it is a work in progress, Pearce hopes to have the operation running soon. Pearce has a soft spot for homelessness, partly because of her own history. Just before she turned 16, Pearce’s mother and stepfather kicked her out of the house. At the time, Pearce didn’t think that much of it. When Pearce explained the situation to her math teacher, with whom she had a good relationship, he found stable accommodation for her.
According to ABC News, Pearce’s experience with this man is a large reason she is providing similar housing today. “He was connected with a house in Elwood that provided accommodation for young people who wanted to stay in school, which is probably a lot of the reason that I had the idea of providing a house like that myself now.” Pearce now runs a successful business, and she is simply paying it forward by providing housing to Melbourne’s homeless.