Common ground and permanent supportive housing in australia acga september 5 2012
Australian Common Ground AllianceSeptember 2012
Felicity Reynolds, Mercy Foundation Systemic drivers of chronic homelessness Issues faced by people who experience long term homelessness Background/context of assistance to this group over past 20-30 years Differences between institutional care and Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) Key elements of Common Ground (CG) An overview/up-date of CG in Australia Where are we now? And lessons to date Looking to the future
Inadequate income (poverty). Inadequate stocks of low cost housing. Inadequate support services for people who need support to sustain housing (often people have a long history of failed tenancies). Inadequate systems to prioritise people with disability & health problems (and who have been long term homeless) into supportive housing. Pathways system not suited to this group. Inadequate systemic funding that joins up permanent housing & support.
Not a huge population (perhaps 15% of total) The drivers of chronic homelessness are systemic – but chronically homeless people do have serious problems to contend with (based on VI data from 7 cities): Over 61% have a mental illness High rates (70%+) substance misuse/addictions 30% report brain injury 63% vulnerable (average across Australia) (Hear more at the VI presentation at the conference).
In Australia, 5 different systems (available to homeless people/at risk of homelessness who have disability/health needs).These have been: Homelessness crisis accommodation (often with 24 hour support and case management). Under SAAP – limited to 3 months (officially). Then transitional/medium accommodation & support models – usually 6 -18 months. Disability housing and support (permanent housing & support, often in group homes). Mental health housing & support (HASI is a good example). Public housing (affordable housing, but little support attached). Private accommodation, such as rooming or boarding houses (cheap accommodation, often poor quality, support varies).
The overall principle of any supportive housing is: A housing allocation of a permanent tenancy via the public or social housing system or a housing subsidy per unit to a tenancy and property manager. Plus an allocation of funding for supportive services that are planned and targeted in line with the needs of the specific population group being prioritised.
The housing is permanent High quality low cost housing. Separation of tenancy management & support. Concierge/security. Mix tenancy (formerly homeless people & others, such as workers & students on low incomes).
Best suited to single adults Most appropriate to built up/urban environments. Work with corporate sector to add value (eg. Grocon building Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane ‘at cost’. Candetti Constructions in Adelaide). In 2010, Santos partnered with CGA providing $3m over five years to a range of programs, services and building costs. Use of Housing First methodology to tenant buildings. ‘Target hard’ – emphasis on the most vulnerable and those who have missed out on housing the longest.
Elements of institutional care: The person becomes a ‘patient’ (or resident) No mutual obligations or responsibility, just compliance required or forced compliance. Medical model – people usually admitted due to symptoms and diagnosis Placed in a ward with people with the same diagnosis, often same treatment People did not have control over when they were admitted or discharged A controlled environment - staff determined when patients could come and go. Patients lose entitlements to community services when institutionalised Institutions designed for treatment Often disconnected from community No independence - forced dependence
Elements of supportive housing: The person is a ‘tenant’ - with responsibilities of a lease. Not a medical-model but recognizes the link between housing and health outcomes. Eligible by income and needs. May have a priority population and assessment if needs and services required. Supportive services are designed around tenant needs/aspirations and are personalised Supportive housing design connects with the neighbourhood, and the specific needs of tenants in the planning and design phase. A key goal is to create healthy interdependence. Services are voluntary for the tenant but not for the staff. Proactive engagement through a range of avenues such as individual support, bringing in community services, activities on site, community networks. Tenants eligible for community home based services. Peer support encouraged and assisted.
Franklin Street opened in February 2008 and consists of 38 units, 14 one-bedroom units and 24 studio apartments. Light Square opened in April 2011 and consists of 52 units, 16 one-bedroom units and 36 studio apartments. Failed tenancies to date – 6 (2 at Franklin; 4 at Light Square). Under the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Program (NBESP) CGA were transferred 5 units, 4 two-bedroom units located in Mile End and one four-bedroom house located in Brompton.
All sites are fully tenanted, and CGA maintains a waitlist of approximately 130 registrants. Common Ground Adelaide acts as both the landlord/property owner and the supportive housing provider – although both roles are managed separately, with staff reporting to the Executive Manager Operations. The supportive housing function is funded by the state government under a three year funding agreement, and is costed to provide support for 50 clients – although support is provided to approximately 60 clients at any one time. The Low Income/Affordable housing tenants are sourced through several avenues; Promotion of the CGA Affordable housing program to local businesses Advertising at local universities and TAFE Colleges/Web based advertising on ‘Gum Tree’/Window face advertising.
131 single units, 65 for formerly homeless people 65 formerly homeless are currently housed Building open for just on 2 years Tenancy manager = Yarra Community Housing (YCH) Support service provider = HomeGround Services Offer to formerly homeless was originally through a call for referrals, assessed by a panel of support experts according to a defined criteria; subsequent vacancies through Department of Justice referrals and via the Collingwood homelessness entry point with an emphasis on Street to Home clients. Affordable tenancies = via YCH website and internal transfers from other YCH properties Social enterprises = Green Connect (recycling) and The Last Cuppa (catering via Wesley Mission Victoria)
104 units: 52 for formerly chronically homeless people; 10 social housing tenants; 42 affordable housing (need to be working or studying). 35 formerly homeless tenants identified through VI. Officially opened November 2011. Mission Australia Housing - tenancy managers. Camperdown Support Services - support provider. Contracted concierge. Social enterprise planned. 2 people formally relinquished their tenancies.
Total number of units to date – 47 Another 50 by late September Currently 8 tenants, with the plan to be fully tenanted by end of 2012 One building now open for 2 months The tenancy manager is a private real estate firm in Hobart. The support services provider is Anglicare Significant local business and corporate support.
Common Ground in Brisbane formally opened on Wednesday 29 August 2012. Is located overlooking the river and art gallery and next to the CBD. Total of 146 units. To date – 73 tenants living in the building (first moved in July). Tenancy manager is Common Ground Queensland Support services provider is Micah Projects
1. Important to consider the approach of the staff that work in case management roles, as staff coming from a crisis accommodation background are generally very good at managing chaotic periods, but may be less naturally inclined to seek more of the life-enhancing and independence-sustaining outcomes for those less chaotic people.2. Early consideration of building layout for maximum utility and greatest safety.3. Early consideration of building location and neighbourhood.4. Consider planning for a slower tenanting to avoid problems.5. It takes a while to settle, but the building does settle.6. Some people who have been at Melbourne CG for 2 years have never lived anywhere for that long before.7. The social mix has proved much easier than expected.8. OK to target very complex people indeed, but people who use violence are hard to accommodate with the common areas.9. Use of Vulnerability Index does work.10. Relationships with local services very important for establishing functional and productive relationship, e.g., Local hospital staff were discharging people early, believing we had nursing care staff onsite Police believed that CG was a halfway house (non-permanent accommodation) for ex-offenders, were unaware of tenant vulnerability
Every State has done CG differently. And the size of cities has seen relevant adaptations to fit to the local context. All projects have had shared Federal/State funding. Primarily State re-current expenditure for support services. We need to clarify a recurrent funding stream. We need to ‘unpack’ what we mean by ‘support’. We need to watch out for ‘function creep’ to guard against aspects of institutionalisation creeping into a housing model.
The new partnership agreements have had an emphasis on a Housing First Approach as well as funding for support services to be aligned with permanent housing. The Common Ground model is an appropriate model for inner city urban areas where reduction in rough sleeping is being prioritised.
The main adaptation around Common Groundin Australia is the fact that as a model itincludes a social mix which addresses thehousing needs of low income workers in thecity for affordable housing as well as formerlyhomeless people. The concerns aboutcongregating of people with high needs ismitigated against - with the diversity of thepopulation.
The mental health and disability reform process combined with the crisis in housing affordability has meant too many people are missing out on what they need in both housing and services. We need services to respond to both the need to support a person to meet their obligations as a tenant as well as have a quality of life. Housing providers need access to capital and subsidies so that the supply permanent housing can be increased.
ACGA – C/- Mercy Foundation, Sydney Common Ground Adelaide HomeGround, Melbourne Common Ground Tasmania, Hobart Micah Projects, Brisbane Mission Australia Housing, Sydney Common Ground Group, Canberra