From Homelessness to a Home: rapidly changing lives in Melbourne
August 19 2021
In 2020 Launch Housing was selected to become the largest provider of services for the Victorian Government’s From Homelessness to a Home program.
The From Homelessness to a Home (H2H) initiative was created to provide people who are residing in emergency accommodation due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with access to stable medium and long term housing and support. H2H is available to 1,845 households with Launch Housing providing support to 420 of these individuals, families and couples.
This year, we sprang into action to organise the necessary resources and partnerships – recruiting from individuals from nearly every department, from finance to outreach – to activate the program.
In June we reached our program goal to have 420 packages allocated to households, and in August we had half of these households moved into medium- and long-term housing – representing a monumental effort from our teams.
Tim Cronin is one of Launch Housing’s H2H Coordinators. Since February Tim has coordinated a team of seven case managers, each supporting 12 clients within H2H, in the intensive support stream.
People who are supported by his team have faced a more complex array of issues and require higher levels of support. Formerly a case manager for Launch Housing’s Melbourne Street to Home program, Tim says H2H has been a vital program for the cohorts of people who have been experiencing homelessness – some for upwards of 8 years.
“We know what works with this cohort is rapid housing, housing first approach and intensive case management. The only services that have provided these services extensively are Melbourne Street to Home (MS2H) and Sacred Heart Mission’s Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI).
“One big thing that used to undermine MS2H was a lack of housing options, purely that the service system wasn’t able to provide people with the housing they needed. So now we’ve seen some phenomenal outcomes for clients who’ve been extremely difficult to house in the past,” he said.
Tim says H2H has enabled the rapid housing of people who have chronic experiences of homelessness at a rate not seen in many years.
“The most core function of a homelessness service should be to provide housing, and for a lot of us we’ve just been working in programs for a number of years where we haven’t been able to do that so in one sense, it has been a positive whiplash, where housing’s actually available.
“Rapid availability of housing and flexibility in housing options, prioritising client choice, providing assertive outreach…we know this works and this is all evidence based and we’ve been given the opportunity to show this on a massive scale now,” Tim said.
This massive investment across Victoria sends a message that Department of Health and Human Services understand a coordinated provision of housing and support and longer-term responses are needed to end homelessness.
“It should be used as an example of how you can end chronic and entrenched homelessness. But it shouldn’t be seen as an end point, it should be seen as a starting point for resolving homelessness,” Tim said.
Effective, coordinated efforts
Vital to program delivery is our wide range of skilled and engaged team members, who are working together to deliver coordinated services and support to people who are transitioning through multiple stages in their journey out of homelessness.
“There is this amazing culture within the staff where they share this information with each other…somewhere along the way, someone’s got it and understood what it is to work with this cohort.
“These are highly skilled professionals and what we’ve asked these staff to do is phenomenal and they’ve risen to the challenge,” Tim said.
In addition to our internal coordination efforts, Launch Housing’s program partners help us improve and expand the services available to deliver tailored responses to the needs to some of our most vulnerable clients.
Once people have been placed in housing, Launch Housing continues to support people to improve their health and wellbeing, develop their connections, strengths and resources to support their journey to build healthy lives.
The value of providing the right support at the right time
For Kate, H2H was an incredible intervention. It has enabled her to live permanently with her daughter who is on the cusp of becoming a teenager and needs that quality time with her mum.
Kate lived a relatively normal life with a good working history, until her partner stopped paying their rent. She experienced difficulty for a number of years in securing private rental for her and her daughter. Throughout 2020 Kate and her daughter were living in hotels in the CBD, initially paid for by herself and then via support from Launch Housing.
“I was a normal girl, this could happen to anyone, you get with a shit bloke and then he mucks up. It went from one bad thing to another. At the end of the day I’ve come out of it. I’ve learnt a lot,” she said.
While staying in hotel accommodation, Kate invested a lot of effort in inspecting properties and submitting rental applications. She reported all viewed properties were really sub-optimal (“horrible”) but she would have accepted anything to have security for her and her daughter.
Kate was connected with a Launch Housing support worker who determined she was eligible for the H2H program. Kate said this “was like winning the lottery”.
She has since secured transitional housing for 18 months, close to her daughter’s school, and will then be able to move into permanent housing.
“Knowing we have a constant stable place together makes me feel very relieved. A big weight off my shoulders. It’s a massive relief for the both of us. No one can muck us up with rent. It’s just me and her and that’s how we wanted it to be.”
Without H2H, options would have been limited, and instability would have caused real long-term harm, possibly leading to more extreme forms of homelessness. Importantly, Kate’s story exemplifies the importance of providing suitable housing at the right time.
“I’m able to save now, whether it’s a $20 a week, for my girl, it ends up being $1,000 a year. It’s something I’ve always done for her. Now I’m able to put away some money for me.
“It’s an awesome feeling to know I can stand on my own, do it myself. It’s a satisfying feeling, knowing I’m going to be alright and things can only get better,” she said.
The Homelessness to a Home program is an important example of what can be achieved with the right resources. With programs like this being made available through State Government support, Launch Housing and its partners can work together to effectively end people’s experience of homelessness.