A partnership between Homelessness NSW,
Domestic Violence NSW and Yfoundations

Partnership - Common Ground Sydney between Mission Australia Housing and Mission Australia Camperdown Support Services

Excellence in Ending Homelessness - Adults Nominee

Partnership - Common Ground Sydney between Mission Australia Housing and Mission Australia Camperdown Support Services

Please give your reasons for nominating this partnership.

Common Ground Sydney is a unique model of housing and the first of its kind in NSW. A $32 million initiative comprising 104 units designed to help tackle homelessness and Sydney’s affordable housing crisis. It is easily the most significant single social and affordable housing development Sydney has seen in this area for many years.

Common Ground Sydney is based on the successful Common Ground model from New York, providing permanent homes and on-site support services to help people achieve health and stability and to maximise their ability to live independently. The separation of tenancy management and support services, and a housing offer that is not conditional upon program compliance, distinguishes Common Ground Sydney from all other housing models.

To achieve this, the Mission Australia Housing and Mission Australia partnership combines expertise in property and tenancy management that is sensitive to the needs of Sydney’s most vulnerable with capability in social services delivery. 

This partnership focusses on long-term solutions to homelessness, rather than just offering a bed for the night. Managed by Mission Australia, Camperdown Support Services is based onsite providing wrap around support services to tenants. Camperdown Support Services works closely with the housing management team from Mission Australia Housing, and with a range of professional independent, government and voluntary service provider’s onsite. Camperdown Support Services critically provides tenants, including 62 people exiting long-term primary homelessness with individual case management and coordination of onsite health, recreational, social and welfare services.

Onsite clinical services and access to health support is also managed by Camperdown Support Services. With a “whole of community” approach that fosters community connections, these services are available to all Common Ground Sydney tenants and also neighbouring public housing residents.

Together, the two partner organisations work towards our combined goal of reducing homelessness and strengthening communities across Australia.

What outcomes were delivered as a result of this partnership?

Common Ground Sydney is a permanent supportive housing solution to end long term homelessness- it is not a homelessness service offering crisis services or transitional housing. Common Ground Sydney provides people with a safe place to live permanently and support to help them achieve stability in their lives.

Common Ground Sydney houses long term homeless people through a ‘housing first’ approach that provides permanent housing, direct from homelessness, and the support people require to remain housed. The Mission Australia Housing and Mission Australia partnership achieves this by offering onsite services specifically designed to sustain people in their tenancies and maximise their ability to live independently. These include support for medical and mental illnesses and/or substance use, through to linking people with training, education and employment opportunities and other community connections.

Exceptional outcomes of this partnership are demonstrated by sustained occupancy rates of formerly long-term homeless tenants who average 13 years “sleeping rough” prior to being housed at Common Ground Sydney. Notwithstanding their extremely challenging lives on the street prior, in December 2015 it was reported that 93% of this tenant cohort sustained their tenancies for more than 12 months and of these, 30 sustained tenancies for 4 years or more.

Reference statement:

Simon Emsley, Mates on the Move (Prisoners Aid Association)

Mates on the Move project of Prisoners Aid Association of NSW is, by virtue of a MOU with Mission Australia, accommodated at Common Ground through payment of a peppercorn rent. The project’s location at Common Ground has allowed our project to, on numerous occasions, directly assist long-term rough sleepers into both full-time employment and secure affordable housing.

The attentiveness of Common Ground’s support staff and the suitability of facilities available at Common Ground for group training and activities has been critical to our projects capacity to address homelessness and risk of homelessness for the 48 project participants engaging in our program since November 2016.

Our project has also contributed to the quality of support options available to Common Grounds tenants, by engaging three such tenants in our employment pathways project.

For these reasons I am happy to support Common Ground’s application for an Excellence in Ending Homelessness Award.