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NORTHSIDE HOUSING FIRST ENDING AND PREVENTING HOMELESSNESS INÂ THE ACT


OUR TEAM COMMITMENT A lived experience of homelessness and the fear, stigma and shame of being at risk of homelessness has a profound and enduring impact on families of all types, from all cultures and from all socio-economic backgrounds. As active members of the broader ACT community and as a team of professionals who have the skills, passion and drive to make change, we consider it our collective responsibility as one Northside to draw a line in the sand and put Housing First. Housing First recognises that stability is more likely to be achieved if an individual or family who has experienced homelessness has an affordable, safe, permanent place to live. Further to this, access to housing in this instance is not provisional on participation in support. Diverting people away from homelessness and ‘the system’ by supporting them to Stay in Place in their home as an important objective for our team. If an established household is at risk then access to support to improve safety, affordability and permanency should be immediately available.

‘Northside Housing First’ combines all Northside programs and properties associated with the provision of safe, affordable housing and the ending of homelessness. This currently includes Common Ground Canberra, Staying in Place Outreach, Women’s Accommodation Program, Assistance with Care and Housing (ACH) for older people, Community Assistance and Support Program (CASP) and our participation in the Public Housing Tenant Relocation Project. These have been combined into one portfolio area that will be underpinned by the Housing First Approach and principles. The ultimate outcome for our community is that if the Northside team are exceptional in this regard then community members who engage us in their lives at times of significant stress will come through the process feeling like their circumstances, including their housing situation, has permanently changed for the better.

The ultimate outcome for our community is that if the Northside team are exceptional in this regard then community members who engage us in their lives at times of significant stress will come through the process feeling like their circumstances, including their housing situation, has permanently changed for the better.


HOUSING FIRST Housing First is a proven approach that connects people experiencing homelessness with safe, permanent and affordable housing as quickly as possible and without preconditions. Housing First harnesses the power of permanent, safe housing to help people recover and heal from the trauma of homelessness. It gives them a safe space in which to address the issues that may be stopping them from living the lives they want.

CORE ELEMENTS

Assertive Street and Community Outreach

Immediate Access to Permanent Housing

Harm Minimisation Approach

STOP Individualised, Person Centred Support (Voluntary)

Community Connectivity and Social Inclusion

No Exits to Homelessness — Breaking the Cycle


CASE STUDY 1: HOUSING FIRST Meet Aaron. When we first met Aaron he revealed that rough sleeping felt safer to him than the rooming houses and shelters he had been exposed to over many years of experiencing homelessness. His experience living on the streets paired with long term substance abuse had almost wiped out his immune system and the constant threat of illness was taking its toll on almost every aspect of Aaron’s life. Aaron received Housing First through Common Ground Canberra which gave him the space to focus on himself for a bit and strengthen his physical and mental wellbeing, this included visiting a Dental Health consultant for the first time since primary school. In the two years since accepting housing at CGC Aaron has joined his local gym, quit smoking, and is now working full-time in a building and maintenance company. Aaron describes Common Ground as his ‘forever’ home and feels he has been able to recover at his own pace.

I WAS SO USED TO SERVICES THAT DON’T ACCEPT PEOPLE, PEOPLE LIKE ME. I DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT BEING THE RIGHT TYPE OF PERSON NOW. I AM HOME.

CASE STUDY 2: SAFE, SUPPORTED HOUSING I CAN GO TO WRITE AN ESSAY ON HOW HAVING A HOME WORKS FOR ME BUT TO SUM IT UP I CAN STAND PROUDLY ON MY FEET AGAIN.

Zara’s journey to secure a safe life started in 2003, when she was 13 years old and fled the atrocities of the civil war in her country. After being placed in care by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHR) she spent considerable time in a refugee camp before finally being given a visa for entry into Australia. Unfortunately the dream of a new life was ruined for Zara who upon arrival in Australia began to experience horrendous physical and metal abuse at the hands of her partner. One day and without a plan or a friend in the world to help, she put her son in the car and just started driving. Three hours later she hit the borders of the ACT and pulled over to sleep in the car. Zara and her son remained living in her car and this is where our team first met the small but resilient family. Zara was housed in transitional accommodation through Northside’s Women’s Housing First Program and once her housing was stablised she has since never looked back. Zara is now permanently housed, working full time and is set to finish her Bachelor Degree in Allied Health at the end of this year.


OUR VISION FOR ENDING HOMELESSNESS:

EVERY PERSON HAS A SAFE, PERMANENT AND AFFORDABLE PLACE TO LIVE. HOW WE WILL END HOMELESSNESS: Housing First

Safe Supported Housing

Staying in Place

Championship and Advocacy

Provide safe, permanent and affordable housing for people with a lived experience of homelessness.

Provide safe and supported housing options for people who are unable to safely ‘stay in place’.

Provide ‘Staying in Place’ support for people at risk of losing their homes.

Champion innovative and sustainable housing and homelessness solutions in the ACT.


ADDRESSING HOMELESSNESS: TRADITIONAL PROGRAM MODEL Conditions Apply

STOP STOPSTOP STOP Conditions Apply

Homelessness

Crisis Accommodation

Conditions Apply

Conditions Apply

Supported or Transitional Accommodation

Public Housing Allocation

Catastrophic event or series of events

ENDING HOMELESSNESS: HOUSING FIRST MODEL Special conditions do not apply

Catastrophic Event or Series of Events

Northside Housing First

• Homelessness

• Safe Permanent Affordable Housing

• Housed

• Safe Affordable Transitional Housing

• Independent

• At Risk of Homelessness

• Staying in Place Support

Outcomes

• Connected


CASE STUDY 3: STAYING IN PLACE

I KNOW I AM HOME BUT I STILL FEEL LIKE I MIGHT HAVE TO MOVE AT ANY TIME. IT IS HARD TO SETTLE IN AND BELIEVE I AM HERE TO STAY.

When our outreach team first met Danielle, she had just ended a five year relationship with her abusive partner and was still in her home, however she was without the means to secure an income or sustain her rent. Danielle and her son were at immediate risk of homelessness. Danielle had been in this situation before and knew what to expect from the crisis and supported housing system. In fact she was facing the eighth move for her small family in five years and yet their financial and physical security was just as at risk as it was when they entered the system five years before. Instead of moving again, Danielle was supported by the team to Stay in Place. This included upgrading the physical security of the property, receiving financial support to maintain her rental payments and being supported to access a subsidised place for son at an Early Childhood Centre nearby. This approach gave Danielle the breathing space she needed to stabilise her circumstances and remain connected with her local community. Danielle is currently about to start casual work in the Aged Care sector and has been enjoying settling her son into his first year at the local primary school.

CASE STUDY 4: HOUSING FIRST Jenna had just turned 49 when everything went wrong all at once. She burnt out from her job and felt mentally and emotionally drained all the time. Jenna couldn’t think straight and was crying all the time. No job, meant no income and she lost her rental. Jenna realised she needed her own place to try and recover from burn out. She went to the Early Morning Centre to get a permanent address to have mail delivered to and to get on the housing waiting list. She started sleeping in her car but on the Easter weekend her car got broken into and her laptop, butane gas stove and money was stolen. Jenna describes that moment as “pretty much hitting rock bottom”. When we met Jenna she had been waiting each morning for the Dickson library to open so she could brush her teeth and wash her face. It was there Jenna met a worker from Catholic Care who put her in touch with the Common Ground team. Jenna describes arriving at CGC as such a relief because she had a safe place to live. It took Jenna quite a while to get used to it though. Now she can’t imagine what her life would be like without it.

I BASICALLY JUST STARTED VISITING FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND STAYING FOR A LITTLE WHILE AT A TIME. IT TOOK ME A COUPLE OF MONTHS TO REALISE I WAS ACTUALLY HOMELESS.


CHAMPIONSHIP AND ADVOCACY The Northside team are proud to be part of a national Community of Practice championing the Housing First model. Northside would like to acknowledge and thank our critical friends and community of peers who continue to inspire and motivate our team to be innovative, courageous, and exceptional in our approach to ending homelessness in Australia. • Micha Projects • Mercy Foundation • Homelessness Australia • Common Ground Adelaide • Mission Australia • Mission Australia Housing • Launch Housing

@NorthsideACT Web: www.northside.asn.au Phone: (02) 6257 2255 Email: reception@northside.asn.au

• Council to Homeless Persons Victoria • Council to Homeless Persons Australia • ACT Shelter • SVDP Street to Home Team

Northside Community Service Northside Community Service 2 Rosevear Place, Dickson ACT 2602

EXCEPTIONAL PEOPLE | COURAGEOUS PRACTICE

Northside Housing First  
Northside Housing First  

The Northside team are embedding a Housing First model across all their programs. This brochure outlines our commitment to ending homelessne...

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