World-leading Victorian programs to end homelessness for rough sleepers are in danger of being scrapped despite new data demonstrating the critical need for these schemes.
The State Government’s Homelessness to a Home (H2H) and Homes for Families programs have given almost 2,000 people access to stable medium- and long-term housing, alongside wraparound support.
The critical importance of ongoing support has been revealed by new data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare which reveals that 5,553 people returned to homelessness last year after finding housing.
Following the release of the data, Council to Homeless Persons has called for all political parties to commit to funding H2H beyond its current expiry date of June 2023.
CHP Chief Executive Officer Jenny Smith said the sheer number of people returning to homelessness after achieving a housing outcome was proof that long term supports like H2H need to continue.
“Many people who have repeat experiences of homelessness and are sleeping rough have problems that require intervention and support to help them sustain housing. They may have had traumatic experiences, like childhood abuse or family violence, have a disability or mental illness, or be a veteran of armed conflict.
“What we know is that with both housing and support, even people with the most complex needs can sustain a home, and avoid re-entering homelessness,” Ms Smith said.
“We know this works. That’s why extending this program is so important – without it more people will go from finding housing back to homelessness.”
“This program is one of the great success stories of the pandemic – it has turned people’s lives around and taken pressure off health, justice, and other human services,” Ms Smith said.
“It is absolutely crucial we see pre-election commitments to keep the life-changing Homelessness to a Home and Homes for Families programs going beyond June.
“Rough sleepers are just 5 per cent of Victoria’s homelessness crisis. But this small group often has more complex issues and require a higher degree of support.
“This program has supported people with long histories of rough sleeping to find secure permanent homes.
“The latest data shows more than 5,500 people returned to homelessness after finding a housing solution.
“That shows exactly why we can’t afford to let Homelessness to a Home be a year-by-year proposition. It needs certainty, stability and a guaranteed future to continue delivering world-class results.”
H2H has been highly successful, providing participants not only with a secure home but also integrated support including counselling, mental health, case management, housing workers, and healthcare services.
The From Homelessness to a Home and Homes for Families programs are based on the housing first model, an internationally recognised and evidence-based model for housing and supporting people who have experienced long term and recurring homelessness.
Support is available for as long as people need it.
Neither housing nor support are contingent on each other, meaning people have self-determination and choice over how they live, and can establish their own homes as they want.