New research pinpoints missing link in housing and homelessness puzzle

09/05/2024 | 3 mins

In the face of unprecedented delays in accessing public housing and soaring rental costs, new research has identified a viable, cost-effective solution that could help ease the pressure on homelessness. 

The report, released by the Centre for Social Impact at The University of Western Australia, found lodging accommodation managed by community housing provider Foundation Housing was a cost-effective and successful model that could be further expanded to address the housing crisis.

With safe, affordable housing out of reach for many Australians, Centre Director Professor Paul Flatau urged federal and state governments to increase investment in Community Housing lodging houses.

“Our evaluation of Foundation Housing Lodging , which has 15 houses in Western Australia, found this model offers affordable long-term stability while addressing the holistic needs of residents through engagement and support services, promoting health, wellbeing, and social connection,” he said.

“The contemporary lodging houses provide enhanced amenities, long-term accommodation, thriving communities and connections to services, in contrast to the often unsafe, short-stay and limited amenities accommodation of traditional private lodging houses.”

Professor Flatau said with growing numbers of Australians seeking access to homelessness services, living precariously in unsafe housing or sleeping rough, analysis showed the FHL model was a cost-effective solution to homelessness with a daily cost of $11.63 per person.

“That compared with $56.17 cost per support day for WA Specialist Homelessness Support Services in the recently released Report on Government Services 2024 data and far below long-term supported housing for those experiencing homelessness with high needs,” Professor Flatau said.

“With 122,000 people experiencing homelessness in Australia on Census night 2021 and 174,600 households waiting to be allocated public housing, we need a multi-pronged approach and can’t neglect those who need a safe roof over their heads now, while we build homes to meet long-term demand.”

Foundation Housing CEO Chris Smith said lodging often represented the first critical step on a path out of homelessness, helping unlock opportunities for employment as well as better health and well-being.

“Our research showed 93 per cent of unemployed residents felt increased confidence to start looking for employment and/or education and training due to having secure accommodation,” Mr Smith said.

“At Foundation Housing, we see first-hand the impact that affordable and safe accommodation has on people’s health, wellbeing, independence and overall life outcomes.”

The full report is available here.

Media references

Simone Hewett (UWA Media & PR Manager) 6488 3229 / 0432 637 716

Professor Paul Flatau (Director, UWA Centre for Social impact) 0447 767 719

Paige Larson (Communications Officer, Foundation Housing) 0424 321 061

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