Innovative program provides housing for homeless

Monday 27 August 2018

homeless girl standing in alleyway

The Chronic Homelessness in Melbourne: First-Year Outcomes J2SI Phase 2 report shows that chronically homeless people need intensive support to stay housed and improve their wellbeing.

In summary

  • The Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI) intervention shows sustained housing provides a solid basis for improving other areas in homeless people's lives
  • The program demonstrated a 55 per cent reduction in healthcare costs for participants
  • After one year, 60 per cent of participants were stably housed

Reduced nights spent in hospital and staying housed are the first year results for chronically homeless people who took part in the Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI) intervention delivered by Sacred Heart Mission (SHM) in St Kilda, Victoria.

The study also found a 55 per cent reduction in healthcare costs in the 12-month period of those receiving the intervention compared to those who were not.

Produced by a team of Swinburne and Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia researchers, a new report titled ‘Chronic Homelessness in Melbourne: First-Year Outcomes J2SI Phase 2, has provided more evidence that receiving permanent housing and intensive support is required for people experiencing homelessness to stay housed and improve their health and wellbeing.

SHM CEO, Cathy Humphrey, says the latest research shows that one year into the program, 60 per cent of people in the J2SI Phase 2 program were stably housed, compared with 30 per cent of those in the control group.

“Of the participants interviewed, 56 per cent reported they felt safe ‘all of the time’ which is an increase of 44 per cent from baseline, with a further 22 per cent reporting feeling safe ‘most of the time,” Ms Humphrey says.

At the launch of the report, J2SI Manager, Karen Lococo, outlined the ‘journey’ of Frank, a 45 year old man who had been on the street for close to 10 years when he was referred to J2SI.

It took many months for Frank to trust his case manager – the turning point was his housing offer. He had never paid bills independently and didn’t know how to cook or clean, so his case manager worked with him to furnish his apartment, shop for food and follow a basic recipe. He made pasta with sauce and said it was the ‘best meal he’d ever had’.

Frank also saw a counsellor and went on medication for mood swings, has been reunited with his two children and is considering going back to school.

“He’s built a support system—which he hadn’t been able to do previously,” Ms Lococo says.

On 17 August, the Honourable Martin Foley MP announced that the SHM’s J2SI intervention would receive Victoria’s first Social Impact Investment (SII) funding, contributing to the vision of ending chronic homelessness nationally.

“J2SI is part of a series of initiatives the Victorian Government is working on to address homelessness and rough sleeping, including our $9.8 million Towards Home project and the $50 million Rapid Housing Assistance program,” Minister Foley said.

 

Hon Martin Foley MP, Dr Monica Thielking; Mr Chris Stolz; Dr Jessica Mackelprang; and Ms Cathy HumphreyThe Honourable Martin Foley MP; Dr Monica Thielking (Swinburne Lead Investigator); Mr Chris Stolz (Chair of the Board, SHM); Dr Jessica Mackelprang (Swinburne Researcher); and Ms Cathy Humphrey (Chief Executive Officer, SHM) at the launch of the report.

”It is great to see our research having real-world policy implications and assisting both government and service-providers to solve complex social problems,” says Swinburne Deputy Chair of the Department of Psychological Sciences, Dr Monica Thielking.

Dr Thielking is leading a team of international researchers and postgraduate students exploring the impact of childhood trauma on participant outcomes.

“Sacred Heart Mission winning Victoria’s first Social Impact Investment funding is an outstanding achievement and we are so pleased that our research endeavours and direct input to the development of the SII proposal, has made an important social impact,” she says.

The J2SI Mark II Research Study is led by Professor Paul Flatau, Director of the Centre for Social Impact, University of Western Australia.

Members of the Swinburne research team include Dr Monica Thielking, Dr Jessica Mackelprang, Dr Steve Quinn, Ms Louise La Sala, Associate Professor Jude Spiers and Dr Kathryn Taylor from the School of Health Sciences.

Follow the links to read the full reports:

Chronic homelessness in Melbourne: first-year outcomes of the Journey to Social Inclusion phase two study

Findings from Wave 1 qualitative focus groups with J2SI Phase 2 Sacred Heart Mission staff from the Journey to Social Inclusion Phase 2 Randomised Controlled Trial