Wealthy family builds houses for the homeless

Portable housing unit
An artist's impression of the portable housing units. (Launch Housing)

A wealthy family in Australia has stumped up over $4 million to try and help Melbourne's homeless.

The number of people sleeping rough in the city is reaching crisis levels, and the Harris family believe they could help the situation by building 57 portable homes.

Geoff Harris, who co-founded the travel company Flight Centre, is bankrolling the project and believes homelessness is the number one issue facing Australia's southern state of Victoria.

"Having a roof overhead and food in your stomach is fundamental. It's unacceptable that in a wealthy society like ours we've allowed this problem to grow worse," Mr Harris said.

The studio-sized units will be built at a Melbourne factory at a cost of $84,000 each and then transported to nine disused housing blocks.

The units can easily be shifted to other locations if they are required.

Potential occupants would have to be referred by Victoria's homelessness organisation Launch Housing.

Deputy chief executive Heather Holst says 16,000 people are at-risk from homelessness in the city and the project is a special opportunity to provide housing in an inner-city location.

"Land cost kills a lot of social housing projects before they start," Ms Holst said.