Excellence in Ending Homelessness - Diverse Groups Nominee
Partnership - Heading Home Ending Homelessness Here! between Lead agency – Wentworth Community Housing Main Partners - Platform Youth Services, Mission Australia (Nepean), Mercy Foundation (Registry Week component only), Stanton and Taylor Realty, Theo Poulos Realty, Jeff Donley Realty, Penrith, Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury City Councils
Please give your reasons for nominating this partnership.
Heading Home is a collaboration of 16 community organisations, businesses and individuals who are working towards ending homelessness through change at the service system level in the Hawkesbury, Blue Mountains and Penrith local government areas . In 2016, the project invited these representatives from the public, private and community sectors around a table to see what could be achieved working together. This is the first time that a local private housing sector has actively participated with SHS and local government in tackling homelessness through a collective impact style approach. The project mobilised the community, busted myths about homelessness, and moved real estate engagement into a deeper relationship that goes beyond Tenancy Support and Rapid Rehousing.
The project objectives are to
1. Identify the most vulnerable people in our communities experiencing homelessness
2. Provide housing and support to people most at risk
3. Shift community focus from managing homelessness to solving homelessness
4. Increase access to affordable and supportive housing
5. Improve systems knowledge
6. Develop service system capacity to both respond to those most vulnerable and to invest in prevention/early intervention to prevent homelessness
7. Support local communities to establish response protocols so that people becoming homeless are rapidly rehoused.
In Stage 1 of the project 75 volunteers supported a Registry Week working in 18 teams across the 3 geographically widespread local government areas to identify and triage people for assistance. Churches, community groups, Rotary and Councils provided venues, coordinated search areas and teams and fund-raised for the project.
Local people responded to a strong media campaign that’s changing the story on homelessness and involving groups and individuals as first responders.
Agents and homelessness services have developed a shared language and agents are actively contributing to design and development of local housing solutions and using networks and influence to gain public and political traction. Stage 2 of the Project is focused on developing housing solutions. Heading Home has been invited to present to two City Councils interested in exploring project development and contributing to solutions.
What outcomes were delivered as a result of this partnership?
In Stage 1 of the project in 2016 – 17:
• The story on homelessness is changing – the work of high profile Ambassadors such as Mark Geyer, two local MPs and a city Mayor combined with a media campaign with over a dozen newspaper articles, several radio interviews, promo announcements and extensive social media through fb and twitter have busted myths and reached across our communities.
• 75 people formally Pledged to raise awareness of homelessness and donate time, services and products.
• Capacity was built in the local service system as community groups and individuals were mobilized to end homelessness. Over 170 people attended launches and community briefings and 75 people volunteered in Registry Week with evaluation data indicating the majority of people gained a better understanding of homelessness and know more about how to respond.
• Street homelessness was targeted and reduced with over 40% of rough sleepers housed and supported. Work continues to house people safely
• Partner Real Estate Agency principals have contributed to ideas for local housing solutions bringing new perspectives and ideas for unlocking the local private market and contributing financial modelling skills and access to a broader business and political network.
• Local communities have tested and prioritised these ideas for local housing solutions.
Heading Home - Ending Homelessness Here! is a new innovative, community project with the aim to end homelessness in Penrith, Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury, as distinct from simply managing it.
An independent formal Evaluation has been led by my company, C. Quinn Consultancy P/L, which focuses on measuring how much difference the Heading Home Project made and build the evidence for what works in ending homelessness.
An evaluation framework was collaboratively developed early in the project and implemented including measures of quality and outcomes across individual, service network and community levels (e.g. pre/post survey of Registry Week participants who have been housed, to understand changes in their wellbeing using the Australia Unity Personal Well-being Index). The evaluation is due for completion in June 2018. Preliminary individual data indicates a correlation between housing and well-being and is likely to support the Heading Home approach. Service network and community knowledge and confidence to respond to homelessness is also being evaluated in recognition of an ecological approach to addressing homelessness. Through project events, such as launches, training and community briefings, evaluation data shows that people have increased their knowledge of homelessness and what they can do about it. It is clear from the work of Heading Home to date that a determination to end homelessness (in the communities that the project covers) is building.