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Rapid Housing Project Proves A Success for Vulnerable Rough Sleepers

4 September 2017 at 10:36 am
Lina Caneva
Rapid housing and support using a collective impact model was the key to addressing the complex needs of vulnerable rough sleepers, according to a new study.

Lina Caneva | 4 September 2017 at 10:36 am


Rapid Housing Project Proves A Success for Vulnerable Rough Sleepers
4 September 2017 at 10:36 am

Rapid housing and support using a collective impact model was the key to addressing the complex needs of vulnerable rough sleepers, according to a new study.

A new report has examined a Western Australian campaign to house rough sleepers and has confirmed how long-term homelessness is associated with high levels of health problems, trauma and disability.

The 50 Lives 50 Homes project is aimed at rapidly housing and supporting Perth’s most vulnerable rough sleepers. The report said that within its first year, the project housed 42 individuals and eight families.

The 50 Lives 50 Homes First Evaluation Report has been produced by the Centre for Social Impact at The University of Western Australia (CSI UWA).

The study, which looked at the client demographics, found on average people had been homeless for more than five years.

“Their needs are complex and serious, and homeless people can often fall through the cracks in terms of preventive health care, mental health treatment and disability support,” research study lead Dr Lisa Wood said.

The project is based on a housing first response to homelessness that has strong international evidence, but homelessness in Australia presents some unique challenges.

CSI WA rapid Housing graphic

Co-researcher from the CSI UWA Shannen Vallesi said the data showed 38 per cent of the 50 Lives participants were Aboriginal people, some of whom had “deep-rooted trauma as part of the stolen generation”.

“The lack of available affordable housing is a systemic challenge that impacts on how quickly people can be housed,” Vallesi said.

“The suitability of housing is also a barrier to rapid housing; it is harder to find houses that can accommodate a family with children, and there are ‘50 Lives’ participants with physical disabilities, so places with stairs or no access to public transport is problematic.”

Director of the CSI UWA Professor Paul Flatau said that the collective impact model was central to the project, with 27 partner organisations involved, across homelessness, housing, and health and community sectors.

“What research evidence suggests is that collaboration across different parts of the service system and from government agencies together with intensive case management is crucial to achieving permanent benefits for those chronically homeless,” Flatau said.

The study is also mapping the effectiveness of the collaboration in achieving client and community outcomes over and above what an individual organisation could do on its own.

Debra Zanella CEO of Ruah Community Services said the importance of collaboration in the community to support the ‘50 Lives’ cohort could not be “overstated”.

“By working together, we can ensure everyone has a safe place to call home. The success of the 50 Lives 50 Homes campaign is testament to careful planning, skillful execution, extraordinary effort, and most importantly the collaborative work of all organisations involved,” Zanella said.

“Our shared commitment is to end homelessness in Perth by providing permanent housing and wrap around support to build solid foundations for a better future.”

50 Lives project aims to:

  • sustainably house and support very vulnerable homeless people using a housing first model;
  • use a collective impact model to harness existing supports and services; and
  • evaluate the effectiveness and relevance of the housing first model in the Western Australian context to inform future funding decisions in homelessness in WA.

The second research study report will be released in 2018, and will use linked hospital data to look at changes in health service use once people are housed.

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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