Australia’s First Homelessness Social Impact Bond Reaches ‘Fruition’
10 February 2017 at 3:53 pm
South Australia has launched the country’s first homelessness social impact bond, which will support 600 people through a program focused on life skills and employment pathways.
The $9 million bond, called Aspire, is a partnership between Social Ventures Australia, the South Australian government, and not-for-profit organisations Hutt St Centre and Common Ground Adelaide.
It’s also SA’s first social impact bond, which is an innovative finance mechanism that combines not-for-profit expertise and private sector capital.
SVA’s executive director of impact investing, Ian Learmonth, said the bond, first announced in September 2015, had come to “fruition”.
“The Aspire SIB has now reached the fundraising stage, which is very exciting,” Learmonth told Pro Bono News.
“We’re in the process of raising the $9 million, following the official launch in Adelaide… and we’re following on with launches in Melbourne and Sydney next week.
“We’re feeling optimistic about the prospect of raising the money by 31 March, which is the expected timeframe.”
The Aspire program, beginning on 1 July, is based on the housing first model and aims to build the independence and resilience of people experiencing homelessness.
“The Aspire SIB targets a cohort of 600 people in metropolitan Adelaide who have some history of homelessness, and [aims to] improve outcomes in their lives, particularly in the areas of hospitalisation, convictions and the use of acute homelessness services,” Learmonth said.
“They’re the three key performance measures of the impact bond. But in addition to that, the program also provides other services around allied health and employment.”
It is estimated that each year over 12,000 South Australians become homeless.
The Aspire program, run by Hutt St Centre and Common Ground Adelaide, will provide stable, affordable and quality housing for participants, as well as intensive case worker management.
As Hutt St Centre is a non-residential agency, Common Ground and Unity Housing will supply accommodation.
Hutt St Centre CEO Ian Cox said: “Aspire has the power to transform the way we deliver services in the future.
“It is based on the success of our case managers, the success of our pathways to employment and education programs, and the success of our partnerships [with] other community organisations.”
The Aspire bond is also expected to save the SA government money, and provide a return to investors, given the targeted reductions in health, justice and homelessness support services.
SA’s minister for health, Jack Snelling, said the program was “brilliant”.
“[It’s] a first in Australia that’s specifically designed to break the cycle of homelessness,” Snelling said.
“With the help of investors who share our vision, and the work of all involved to create this new program, we can improve the lives of vulnerable and homeless people.
“It’ll not only benefit the participants – but also the wider community through reduced demands on our health, justice and homelessness support systems.”
Learmonth said, if the program delivered positive financial and social returns, the model could be adopted by other governments as a way to address homelessness.
“The Aspire program provides case worker care for a longer period of three years compared with conventional homelessness approaches,” he said.
“Depending upon the success of the program, it could well lead to a different approach from government in the future in terms of how it tackles this difficult issue.”