© Warren Fahey
In Melbourne the housing of the poor is occupying a large share of attention just now. A man badly housed is not only less useful as a worker in the world’s great industrial hive, but he also takes a lower place in the moral and social world. Any one who has experience of the habits of the poor well knows that poverty and dirt go hand in hand in a great many cases, not always from inclination, but from necessity. In the early days of Melbourne — when so many good men knew what it was to be “hard up”, and, because they had not ‘Fortunatus’ purse to dip into, found themselves, per- force, compelled to seek a night’s lodging in a boiler, or another inexpensive hiding place — sixpenny beds were an undreamt of luxury to the poor devil who had just the color of silver in his pocket, but was unable to get a sleeping berth at anything less than half a crown.
And to-day another evil has crowded into his life. He has cheap beds, but not always in wholesome localities, or in well kept houses. The lodging house keeper who caters for the very poorest of “casuals” is not always a good manager, and the result of his incapacity, to give it no other name, is productive of but one result — the worst possible accommodation for the lowest remunerative charges.
And, until the advent of the Melbourne model lodging house, established in King-street in 1872, the poor man who had to contract for his daily quantity of sleep and food at the lowest prices was entirely at the mercy of cruel fate personified in the person of the lodging house keeper. Women were even worse off, and suffered more.
The Improved Dwellings and Lodging House Company, whose premises are situated in Little Bourke-street east, is the latest addition to the public model lodging houses of this city. The large three storied brick building erected provides 350 beds, 11 of which are let at Is. each, 50 at 9d., and the balance at 6d. per night.
The “Illustrated Australian News”, 8 November 1884
VICTORIA and MELBOURNE