20 Lives, 20 Homes to address rough sleeping in Freo

20 Lives, 20 Homes to address rough sleeping in Freo

The McGowan Government is launching ’20 Lives, 20 Homes Freo’ to give vulnerable people sleeping rough in Fremantle a pathway out of homelessness.

Acknowledging the complex needs of people experiencing homelessness, the two-year program aims to provide the permanent housing and support services they need to build solid foundations for a better future.

It is based on the successful ’50 Lives, 50 Homes’ program that housed more than 147 rough sleepers in Perth over three years.

An independent evaluation of that program, which began in 2015, found 88 per cent of participants were still in housing three years later, they spent less time in hospital and – among those who had offended prior to being housed – the number of offences committed fell significantly.

The ’20 Lives, 20 Homes Freo’ project will be funded in partnership with the City of Fremantle and the private sector, which raised almost $1 million from a small number of individuals with Fremantle connections.

A number of community service organisations will provide wraparound services, with outreach and intensive support to be delivered by St Patrick’s Community Support Centre and after-hours services to be provided by Ruah Community Services.

The State Government will contribute $395,000 to trial a private rental subsidy that will give people experiencing homelessness a new way to access housing.

The program will tap into the private rental market, with properties to be leased and managed by community housing provider Foundation Housing.

Participants will be charged weekly rent, but it will be subsidised at a similar rate to that applied to social housing properties – 25 per cent of household income.

The housing-first approach is backed up by evidence and has been consistently raised in the development of the State’s first 10-year homelessness strategy, which is due for release later this year.

“It can be easy to forget that the collection of blankets and jackets in a sheltered doorway is hiding a person whose dreams and goals in life have given way to hopelessness and homelessness,” said Community Services Minister Simone McGurk.

“Homelessness is not who these people are – it is something they are experiencing at this point in time.

“The ’20 Lives, 20 Homes’ program takes a housing-first approach and will help people experiencing homelessness get a roof over their head, which is an important first step.

“But it will also connect them with the support services that can get them out of homelessness permanently.

Housing Minister Peter Tinley said, “This announcement demonstrates what can be achieved when governments and the private and community services sectors work together to make a difference for people experiencing homelessness.”

“I’m proud that we were able to include an initiative to trial a rental subsidy scheme, to give people appropriate accommodation and immediate support when they need it.”