Support staff delivering a new state government-funded housing program say the model will stop the 'revolving door' of homelessness.
Uniting Ballarat in partnership with CatholicCare is delivering the Homelessness to a Home program, which will ultimately place 74 homeless people into secure housing.
The Victorian government announced $150 million for the program to house more than 1800 people statewide in July 2020.
The aim is to find a permanent home for people placed in hotels and motels throughout the coronavirus pandemic and provide ongoing support.
Today we allocated eight homeless people into eight properties. When is the last time we have been able to do that?Adam Liversage, Uniting Ballarat
Uniting Ballarat acting coordinator housing and homelessness Adam Liversage said this new type of approach would be the answer to homelessness.
"It is a circuit breaker," he said.
"If we can prove this is a successful model and we are stopping that revolving door into homelessness, hopefully the state government will take notice."
Mr Liversage is leading a team that will deliver the program across the Central Highlands, South West and the Wimmera.
To be eligible for the program, people must have been placed into crisis accommodation in hotels and motels from March to December 2020 and have a history of rough sleeping or chronic homelessness.
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The team has worked to prioritise 74 people or households out of more than 700 who would have been eligible.
The state government is supplying 15 current social housing properties and is purchasing 18 properties from the private market.
Ten properties have already been purchased with many settlements coming up in April.
Uniting is committed to supplying 35 properties, some that are existing properties and the others through new head leasing arrangements.
Head leasing means the organisation signs the lease with the real estate agent and the client signs the lease through Uniting.
The tenant pays 25 per cent of their income as rent and the program makes up the difference.
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Mr Liversage said Uniting was appealing to real estate agents and tenants to consider being a part of the program.
He said it would achieve incredible outcomes and there was strict selection criteria for clients for each property.
"We prioritise 30 from each region and when the property comes up we nominate the highest priority and try to match the area and the property that would suit the family needs," Mr Liversage said.
"It is quite lucrative for the landlords. At the end of the day we are responsible for damages, we are responsible for the rent and the rent gets paid regardless of whether the tenant is in there or not.
"We are crying out for one or two bedroom properties because that is where our need is."
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Once a person or family is placed into a property, intensive support continues for between 12 to 18 months.
The support workers help clients reintegrate into the community, develop independent living skills, provide mental health, alcohol and other drug support and help with linking into the education system.
"All of that support gives them the best opportunity to sustain those tenancies moving forward," Mr Liversage said.
Mr Liversage said there would be 11 staff working in the program, including seven case coordinators and two tenancy workers.
There are 64 housing packages for singles, seven for two bedroom properties, two for three bedroom properties and one for four bedroom properties.
This addresses the high numbers of single people placed in hotels and motels.
Two people have been placed in properties so far through the program, one in Ballarat and one in Bacchus Marsh.
Another 25 are waiting for their housing, with packages allocated as housing becomes available.
All 74 people must be placed into housing by the end of June.
"I have never seen a program so well resourced," Mr Liversage said.
"There are lots of jobs, money and housing. It is just the head leasing we need and hopefully the landlords will consider it.
"Today we allocated eight homeless people into eight properties. When is the last time we have been able to do that?
"Workers are beside themselves with joy when their clients get allocated a property. They have gone through the whole experience of the client and supported them.
"It breathes life into the sector and gets outcomes."
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