Unique living skills program for people experiencing homelessness

May 27, 2021

A unique living skills program for people experiencing complex homelessness has been implemented, with all who successfully completed the program being housed.

The program – aimed at ending ongoing homelessness and sustaining future tenancies – involved assessments of skills including budgeting, cooking, shopping, cleaning and social behaviours while people were living independently in apartment-style accommodation.

“These skills seem straightforward to many, but a lot of our residents never had the opportunity to learn them as children or young people, or lost them when they became institutionalised or homeless,” says Grace Rullis, the Manager of Homelessness Services at the Haymarket Foundation.

“When you add in mental health, alcohol and other drug use or dependencies and in many cases, cognitive impairment, there’s an extra level of difficulty,” she says.

The senior case managers also worked to stabilise unresolved trauma, problematic alcohol and other drug use and mental health issues.

The ten participants who completed the four-month program exceeded all the benchmarks – with all those eligible being offered a housing first package.*

“We are so pleased to see our former residents settled happily in homes of their own.

“We hope these daily living skills will help people sustain these tenancies over the long-term, as we know that people can experience repeated episodes of homelessness.”

The program was developed and carried out while the participants were housed in nearby apartment-style accommodation during the pandemic. The accommodation was paid for by the Department of Communities and Justice.

“We would like to develop this work further, as we know it’s a critical piece in the jigsaw puzzle of ending complex homelessness, but funding is an issue,” says Ms Rullis.

In the meantime, the Haymarket Foundation has entered into a partnership with Metro Community Housing, in which staff will provide ongoing care for two years to a limited number of former residents, once they are housed.

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*A refugee, international student and New Zealander were part of the study group and all of those groups are ineligible for social housing.