26 September 2023

New program puts roof over homelessness

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L-R: Lisa Higginson, CatholicCare; Yvette Berry, Minister for Housing; Anne Kirwan, CatholicCare; Patrick McKenna, St Vincent de Paul; Louise Gilding, Housing ACT.

The Community Services Directorate has joined with CatholicCare and St Vincent de Paul to embark on a new housing program to help end chronic homelessness.

Announcing the partnership, the Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Yvette Berry said Housing First was being delivered in response to recommendations of the 2018 Study in the Long-Term Support Needs of Clients with High and Complex Needs.

“Having a home is fundamental to so many parts of life,” Ms Berry said.

“Without that security it can be nearly impossible to improve your health or find and keep a job,” she said.

“A Housing First approach will help people in our community experiencing chronic homelessness, requiring urgent assistance and unable to sustain a tenancy on their own.”

Ms Berry said a combination of complex issues meant some people were cycling through crisis services or remaining homeless for long periods of time, unable to break the cycle of homelessness.

“[The] program will support 20 individuals sleeping rough in the ACT into permanent housing, with flexible and individual assistance for as long as needed,” she said.

“Housing First also differs from traditional models as it is offered without preconditions such as employment, no criminal history and sobriety.”

Ms Berry said the approach had been shown to be effective in the United States in helping people experiencing homelessness to find accommodation.

The model was also reported to be a less expensive intervention than emergency accommodation and transitional housing.

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