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Adelaide Zero Project makes great strides in bid to end street homelessness

1 April 2021 at 4:51 pm
Luke Michael
The project involves over 40 organisations from across the public, private, community and university sectors      

Luke Michael | 1 April 2021 at 4:51 pm


Adelaide Zero Project makes great strides in bid to end street homelessness
1 April 2021 at 4:51 pm

The project involves over 40 organisations from across the public, private, community and university sectors      

More than 500 people who were sleeping rough in Adelaide’s inner city have been helped into stable housing over the past four years through a charity-led project, a new report reveals. 

The Adelaide Zero Project – launched by the Don Dunstan Foundation in 2017 – aims to achieve functional zero homelessness, which means the number of homeless people on any given night is no greater than housing placement availability.

This week it released an impact report showing that 522 people had been housed through the project as of 31 December 2020, with an average of 18 people housed each month.

Louise Miller Frost, Adelaide Zero Project chair and St Vincent de Paul Society (SA) CEO, noted that the project involved much cross-collaboration, with over 40 organisations across the public, private, community and university sectors partnering in the initiative.

“The Adelaide Zero Project facilitates the key stakeholders in the homelessness sector to come together, to think and operate differently, in order to achieve better outcomes for the people sleeping rough in our city.” Miller Frost said.

“By adopting the functional zero approach, Adelaide took on the challenge to be the first city outside of North America to reach functional zero homelessness for people who are sleeping rough.”

Miller Frost told Pro Bono News one of the major achievements of the project was the creation of a by-name list – a real-time list of all people experiencing homelessness in a community. 

She said this data was owned by the whole sector so people don’t have to tell their stories repeatedly.

“So when we’re working with somebody we know who else has been involved, what their story is, and what are the supports that need to be packaged around them in order to make a housing placement successful,” she said.

“We [created this using] the VI-SPDAT, which is a vulnerability index and a common assessment tool.

“That was quite groundbreaking as well, to actually have everyone getting the same collection of data and then collectively working on the same platform.”

Despite the project’s success, the report noted that there were still 206 people actively homeless in Adelaide’s inner-city at the end of 2020, including 121 people sleeping rough.

Miller Frost said while she knew there was still much work to be done, the project was currently in a “holding process” with the South Australian government in the process of re-tendering the entire sector.

“What we hope will come out of this process is that the learnings from [the project] will be the basis of the new model,” she said.

“We still have around 200 people on our by-name list. We need to make sure that those people are transferred to whatever the new arrangement is, without inconveniencing them in any way.”

The Adelaide Zero Project has an online dashboard that actively tracks the number of rough sleepers in the city and how many of them have moved into secure housing.

Brisbane recently joined Adelaide to become the only other Australian city that is publicly reporting this data in real time. 

Miller Frost urged other Australian cities to come on board and embrace a functional zero approach. 

She said this was a great way to quickly engage with people experiencing homelessness and move them into housing.   

“The challenge is that homelessness is a dynamic system. People move in and out of the homelessness system all the time,” she said. 

“I think functional zero is a really good way of representing that dynamic system in a way that is very outcome-focused.

“It’s about moving people through and out the other end into a permanent housing placement.”     

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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