Melbourne small business takes on the youth housing crisis

The ABC highlighted the housing crisis for young people with their recent article Shortages in crisis housing leaving hundreds of homeless youths in Melbourne’s outer south with nowhere to go, published on the 15 May.

Irene Becker, founder of Melbourne-based social enterprise 99aupairs – a business recognised as one of Inside Small Business’s Top 50 Small Business Leaders in 2019 – is keen to emphasise that there in fact two major issues that many people are wrestling with: the housing crisis and the childcare crisis. This belief is backed up by statistics: 37 per cent of young people aged 20-24 experience housing stress, according to AIHW; and young people are asked to pay $300-400/week, up to half their wages, according to the ABC article.

“We are trying to address both of those crises at 99aupairs by matching young people who are keen and ready to move out from home with host families who need additional support with their kids,” Becker said.

“Building on the existing au pair program, previously exclusively reserved for overseas travellers, we offer young people the opportunity to glimpse into the lifestyle of a future career path, by placing them with professionals who are already working in the field,” Becker added. “They also get the taste of living away from home, without the huge price tag of renting and bills.”

99aupairs are using their live-in expertise to help solve the youth housing crisis through its The Gap Year Mentorship Program for Youth (GYMPY), which allows young people to not only have a safe and stable ‘home’, but also offers them mentorship to give them the confidence to aspire higher.

Young people on the program get full board and food in exchange for 15 hours of basic childcare help, and the host families act as mentors to help guide those youngsters’ future career paths.

The GYMPY program is getting glowing endorsements for its efforts in giving young people a taste of independence without them being cast adrift without any support. One of its participants Abbey said, “I wanted to live in Melbourne, close to home, and have hours that allowed me to study. Being an Au Pair was perfect as I had most of the day free.”