Wednesday, August 5, 2015

How to fix homelessness: give the homeless a home?

Michael Short
The Age August 3, 2015
Should we give homeless people, well, a home? Is this simple idea perhaps the best solution to homelessness?
…….Giving homes to the homeless might sound radical. It might initially inflame those who believe in small government, in limiting the role of the state. But, in fact, it would appear to be the most effective and economical way of solving chronic homelessness, particularly in a wealthy nation like Australia, where more than 100,000 people are without a home on any given night - and many, like this person outside St Paul's Cathedral in central Melbourne, are forced to sleep outdoors………
In other words, giving the homeless a safe, secure home is a real solution that should appeal to fiscal conservatives as much as to those who are socially progressive. Surely all of us should be concerned about the plight of the most vulnerable and needy in our communities. As this is Homelessness Prevention Week, it's not a bad time to talk about it………
It's an idea captured by Michael Leunig in this illustration.
Here in Australia, a recent study by Melbourne-based Sacred Heart Mission provides hope that the Housing First model might spread. After a four-year pilot program where long-term homeless people were given stable, safe accommodation and then back-up services and counselling, the Journey to Social Inclusion report found:
• As many as three-in-four participants were still in stable housing a year after the program ended, compared with fewer than 60 per cent of the control group that received existing services under the old model.
• There was a fall of 80 per cent in the need of the participant group for emergency health services during the four years, while the needs of the control group increased by a fifth.
• The savings to taxpayers were more than $17,000 a year per participant.
Read more and view many photos

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