A man, a dog and a new home
Twenty of Canberra’s most disadvantaged people will be given permanent homes thanks to a project between CatholicCare, Vinnies and the ACT government.
The Axial Housing program, launched last month, follows a “Housing First” principle that people need a permanent home before other issues are tackled, such as mental heath, drug and alcohol support.
A permanent home provides stability for someone to get other aspects of their life back on track, such as work or alcohol rehabilitation.
The Housing First model has been successful overseas and been implemented in Melbourne and Sydney.
“We are excited to deliver a Housing First pilot in Canberra,” CEO of CatholicCare Canberra and Goulburn, Anne Kirwan, said.
The ACT government will provide 20 properties for the two-year pilot program while CatholicCare and the St Vincent de Paul Society will provide residents with support services.
One man and his pet dog have moved into one of the five properties that have already been provided.
CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society ACT, Barnie Van Wyk, said that despite ABS Census figures from 2016 showing homelessness had decreased in the ACT, there was still a significant problem with rough sleepers.
Mr Van Wyk estimated there were 40 to 70 people sleeping rough in the ACT and Vinnies had identified about 180 homeless people with complex support needs.
CatholicCare’s Assessment Manager Toni la Brooy said it was significant that the program allowed residents to keep pets.
“Most people on the streets have a pet because that’s their family,” Ms la Brooy said. “If they can’t take their pet with them they’d rather stay on the streets than leave the animal behind.”
Ms la Brooy has worked in the homeless sector for 16 years and said they had so far received five applications from homeless men needing permanent accommodation, aged 35 to 83.
“We have 20 properties we didn’t have before,” she said. “It’s fantastic. We’re so excited.”
Homelessness in the ACT
* The 2016 Census found 1,738 people were homeless in the ACT. Those fleeing domestic violence and Aboriginal people were most vulnerable.
* The rate of homelessness in the ACT has decreased from 48.7 per cent in 2011 to 40.2 in 2016
* The ACT Government estimates that 10 per cent of people who accessed homeless services had high and complex service needs, which equals about 380 people per year.