Housing

Outcome 1

 

Homeless people have access to housing and are able to sustain a tenancy

Outcome 1 page header

Summary

Addressing the causes of homelessness in NSW requires a coordinated effort. People who are homeless or in and out of homelessness may be living literally without a home or in short-term crisis accommodation or a series of temporary stays with friends and relatives or in caravans/residential parks or boarding houses on a short-term basis. For this reason, the first outcome of the Corporate Plan 2007/08–2009/10 is to work towards addressing the causes of homelessness throughout NSW, in partnership with other agencies, to support the most vulnerable in our community.

Over the next three years, Housing NSW has identified that the priority areas of work will be:

  • preventing homelessness and intervening early to address its causes
  • providing assistance to those with urgent accommodation needs and
  • working to assist people who are in and out of homelessness into more stable public and private housing.

Highlights

Minister launches Assistance Protocol for Residential Park Closures in September 2007

  • 46 women were assisted as long-term, case managed service clients under the Staying Home
    Leaving Violence program
  • NSW Homelessness Strategic Framework Stage 1 endorsed in May 2008 by chief executives of partner agencies
  • 14,674 telephone calls and 4381 households were assisted through the After Hours Temporary
    Accommodation Line
  • Almost 40,000 people were assisted through the Crisis Accommodation Program

Key performance indicators 2007/08

Actual

The number of clients who received temporary accommodation assistance transitioned to:

a) private rental within six weeks

1950

b) social housing within three months  

1282


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Addressing Homelessness

Housing NSW’s Corporate Plan 2007/08–2009/10 identifies homelessness as the first outcome to be addressed along the continuum of housing need. Housing NSW has a number of programs and strategies, aimed at improving the access that homeless people have to housing, and is working in partnership with other key stakeholders to address the needs of people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.

Partnership Against Homelessness

Housing NSW is the lead agency in the NSW Partnership Against Homelessness, which was established by the NSW Government in 1999 to improve services to people who are homeless in NSW. It brings together 12 government agencies responsible for providing services to the homeless.

The Partnership Against Homelessness will address:

  • a key goal of the NSW State Plan – ‘to provide opportunity and support for the most vulnerable’ and
  • the recommendations made in the Auditor-General’s Performance Audit Report, Responding to Homelessness (Performance Audit).

Over the past year, the Assistance Protocol for Residential Park Closures and the Guidelines for Field Staff to Assist People Living in Severe Domestic Squalor were implemented under the work plan.

Assistance Protocol for Residential Park Closures

The Partnership Against Homelessness Assistance Protocol for Residential Park Closures sets the framework for how government agencies will cooperate and assist people who have been displaced by a residential park closure. The agencies work together to help these people access services and to prevent them from becoming homeless. The Protocol was updated and launched in September 2007 and will be reviewed again in 2010.

Hunter Signpost Assessment and Referral Service

This service is a first point of contact for homeless people and agencies in the Hunter region to access assistance. Delivered by Mission Australia under the Partnership Against Homelessness, the project is in Phase 2, which commenced in January 2006. Phase 2, jointly funded by the NSW Department of Community Services and Housing NSW, aims to resolve a client’s homelessness and make connections with other service providers. It focuses on early intervention and joint case management through partnerships with community housing, and Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) services.

Phase 2 was evaluated during 2007 and the final report was submitted to Housing NSW in May 2008, with outcomes currently being considered. By the end of June 2008, 268 people had been assisted.

Over the next year, Housing NSW and the Department of Community Services will assess the recommendations to determine how to effectively deliver the service in the future.

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Homelessness Framework  

Following the release of the Auditor-General’s Responding to Homelessness report (May 2007), a senior Working Group developed a proposal for a NSW Homelessness Strategic Framework in early 2008. The Framework will set the directions for how the Partnership will prevent homelessness in NSW, the approaches to supporting homeless people and how to engage the community in addressing the problems.

The Homelessness Strategic Framework will be completed in two stages. Stage 1 of the Framework was endorsed by the chief executives of the partner agencies (Housing NSW, NSW Department of Community Services, NSW Health, NSW Department of Corrective Services, Department of Juvenile Justice, Office of Fair Trading, Department of Premier and Cabinet, Aboriginal Housing Office, NSW Police Force, NSW Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Education and Training, and NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs) in May 2008. Consultations with non-government agencies and consumer groups will take place during July and August 2008. Stage 2 of the Framework and a supporting Action Plan, which will incorporate outcomes, strategies and actions, will be finalised after the release of the Australian Government’s White Paper in September 2008.

A Place to Call Home

A Place to Call Home, a Commonwealth Government initiative, aims to reduce levels of homelessness in Australia by providing secure housing. The Commonwealth provides funding which is matched by NSW. Planning for its implementation began in 2007/08, with work underway with other NSW government human service agencies to roll out properties and support packages from July 2008. Housing NSW will identify 25 properties for use by homeless people through this initiative by the end of 2008/09, with further properties to be identified in future years. Partnerships will be developed under the NSW Housing and Human Services Accord to formalise the provision of support to clients housed under this initiative (see Outcome 2, page 20).

Inner-city Homelessness Action Plan – Phase 2

The Inner-city Homelessness Action Plan (ICHAP) outlines an inter-agency approach to chronically homeless people in the City of Sydney local government area. The Plan, led by Housing NSW and overseen by the Inner Sydney Homelessness Action Committee (ISHAC), includes representatives from over 20 government and community agencies. The second phase of ICHAP (January 2007–January 2011) was developed following an independent evaluation of ICHAP – Phase 1 in 2005.

During 2007/08, ICHAP:

  • delivered the Inner-city Homelessness Outreach and Support Service (I-CHOSS)
  • established the Housing First under the Accord and the Chronically Homeless and Complex Needs Coordination Project to link clients to long-term supported accommodation
  • established the Allawah Dual Diagnosis Pilot Project to provide housing and support for homeless Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with mental health and substance use disorders and
  • re-established the Aboriginal Homelessness Reference Group.

Next year’s focus will be on research, data analysis, a rough sleeper street count, development of risk assessment and referral tools, and training development.

Inner-city Homelessness Outreach and Support Service  

The Inner-city Homelessness Outreach and Support Service (I-CHOSS), delivered by a consortium of Mission Australia and the Haymarket Foundation, provides outreach and support services to homeless people in the City of Sydney. I-CHOSS is funded by Housing NSW and the City of Sydney, with a brokerage component provided by the Department of Community Services. I-CHOSS began operation in January 2006.

The three components of I-CHOSS are:

  1. an outreach team – services to homeless clients, with a focus on ‘rough sleepers’
  2. a support team – services to clients referred by the outreach team 
  3. a specialist team – medical services, counselling and therapeutic and group programs.

In 2007/08, the outreach team had 4438 contacts with clients or potential clients on the streets. I-CHOSS provided active case management to 123 outreach clients and 60 support clients. An evaluation of I-CHOSS will be completed by the end of 2008.

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My Place Program  

The My Place program provides housing and support services to rough sleepers and homeless people living in short-stay refuges and helps people to develop the skills to move into long-term stable housing. The program uses 60 private rental leases funded under the Community Housing Leasing Program of the Office of Community Housing.

The My Place program is run in partnership between three housing associations and five support agencies. The housing associations are Marrickville Area Community Housing, South West Inner Sydney Housing, and The Women’s Housing Company.

The support partners are:

  • Wesley Mission Community Housing
  • Inner-city Homelessness Outreach and Support Service (I-CHOSS)
  • Homereach Program, Matthew Talbot Hostel
  • Oasis Youth Support Network, Salvation Army
  • The Mercy Arms.

Changes to the program are planned for 2008/09. These changes will increase housing stability, improve how clients are exited out of the program and increase access to My Place spaces for new clients.

Staying Home Leaving Violence Pilot

Staying Home Leaving Violence (SHLV) Eastern Sydney project is funded by the NSW Department of Community Services and managed by Housing NSW. The aim is to prevent homelessness by enabling women who have experienced domestic violence to remain safely in their own homes without the violent partner. Referrals to the program are commonly from the police, Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Scheme, and Housing NSW. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the NSW Police Local Area Commander.

A 2007 evaluation showed the program is successful in its aim. Clients’ feedback indicates they are able to maintain their support networks, and have a greater sense of self-worth, confidence and control, especially as:

  • two-thirds of clients are able to remain in their own home
  • most clients have stable employment and their children are in school or child care and
  • breaches of apprehended violence orders during the support period were reduced.

During 2007/08:

  • NSW Police referred 57 women, seeking information and support after a domestic violence incident
  • there were 33 referrals from other referral sources and
  • 46 women were assisted as long-term, case managed service clients.

The Staying Home Leaving Violence initiative will be expanded to 18 sites across NSW in 2009/10.

Angela’s story

Angela, a 38-year-old woman who lives alone, suffers from a chronic health issue. She was referred to Staying Home Leaving Violence (SHLV) by her health case worker after a domestic violence incident. At the time of referral, she was homeless as her ex-boyfriend had entered her home univited. Angela had been threatened by her ex-boyfriend. With the help of SHLV and Angela’s health worker, Angela put in an application for an apprehended violence order. SHLV worked closely with the local Housing NSW office to arrange a transfer within the same area. SHLV assisted Angela with the move and arranged for improved security to prevent future incidents if Angela’s ex-boyfriend discovered where she lived. In her new home, Angela is free from abuse, feels safer and has had no further domestic violence incidents.

Launch of Inner-city Homelessness Action Plan – Phase 2

During Homeless Persons’ Week in August 2007, the Minister for Housing launched the Inner-city Homelessness Action Plan (ICHAP) Phase 2 at a function in inner-city Sydney. ICHAP is designed to deliver more support services and places to live for homeless people through a focus on early intervention. It is based on evidence that shows that just providing property is not enough. Homeless people also need a range of support services, such as health care, counselling, education and training, to help them sustain their tenancies.

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Emergency Accommodation

Housing NSW provides emergency temporary accommodation in lowcost hotels, motels, caravan parks and similar accommodation for people who find themselves homeless.

After Hours Temporary Accommodation Line

The After Hours Temporary Accommodation Line provides crisis accommodation for clients who find themselves homeless outside of normal business operating hours. Housing NSW is undertaking a review of temporary accommodation, including the After Hours Temporary Accommodation Line, to improve the existing service and will continue to build relationships with providers and expand our network.

In 2007/08, the service responded to over 14,600 telephone calls and 4381 households were assisted with temporary accommodation.

Liverpool and Fairfield Temporary Accommodation Project

This project, in partnership with Hume Community Housing, helps homeless clients in crisis. Rather than unsuitable motel accommodation, clients can stay for up to eight weeks in furnished accommodation while they are helped to access the private market. In May 2008, Hume Community Housing began to house people in Fairfield in two one-bedroom and five studio apartments. These are used primarily by singles, couples and a parent with one child, providing a family living environment that is safe and secure.

2007/08 findings

  • 14 percent more households found stable accommodation than those leaving motels.
  • After leaving, 56 percent of households went to stable accommodation.
  • 27 percent of clients were able to access long-term tenancies.
  • It costs $54 per day for a client as opposed to approximately $100 per day in a motel.

Crisis Accommodation Program

The Crisis Accommodation Program (CAP) is a tied program, funded under the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement (CSHA), to provide crisis accommodation to people who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless and are in crisis. It is delivered in conjunction with the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP), administered by the Department of Community Services. In 2006/07, the Office of Community Housing introduced a two-year program to deliver 30 additional units and fund existing properties during 2006–08.

In 2007/08, the Office of Community Housing and the NSW Department of Community Services developed a three-year rolling program, which will be implemented in 2008/09 to 2010/11 to allocate funding for high-priority projects. The focus of the new resource allocation is on reconfiguring existing properties to meet the changing service model and emerging needs of SAAP clients.

At 30 June 2008, there were a total of 1272 capital and 230 leasehold crisis accommodation properties, managed by non-government organisations in NSW. The program assisted nearly 40,000 people during the year.

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www.facs.nsw.gov.au