The State Government, City of Fremantle, private sector and key community services providers are coming together to address rough sleeping in Fremantle.

‘20 Lives 20 Homes Freo’ is a two-year initiative based on the successful 50 Lives 50 Homes collective impact project, which is driven by a housing-first approach. The approach advocates that people experiencing homelessness are better able to access support and achieve long-term positive outcomes from the stability of a home.

The funding, provided by the State Government, City of Fremantle and private sector donors, will help establish 20 Lives 20 Homes for an initial two years.

An estimated 9,005 people were homeless in Western Australia on Census night in 2016.

Sirona Capital Managing Director Matthew McNeilly has witnessed first-hand the extent of rough sleeping during the redevelopment of Kings Square Fremantle.

Community Services Minister and Member for Fremantle Simone McGurk introduced Mr McNeilly to Ruah Community Services, which had tested the housing-first model with the larger 50 Lives 50 Homes program in the Perth metropolitan area. That program has achieved an over 80 per cent retention rate.

Mr McNeilly has driven private sector support for the program, raising almost $1,000,000 for 20 Lives 20 Homes from a small number of individuals with strong Fremantle connections.

The State Government is contributing a further $395,000 over two years, while the City of Fremantle has committed $40,000 this year, with another $40,000 contribution proposed for next year. St Patrick’s Community Support Centre (St Pat’s), Fremantle Foundation and the City of Fremantle have been working with Ruah Community Services (Ruah) to provide the first place-based trial of the 20 Lives 20 Homes program here at Fremantle.  The program will provide intensive wraparound support to individuals facing complex barriers to exiting homelessness.   

St Pat’s and Ruah have already employed staff dedicated to the program and will be housing their first client very soon.

This is a coming together of the State Government, City of Fremantle, Ruah, St Pat’s, Fremantle Foundation and the private sector to fund and implement the 20 Lives 20 Homes program in Fremantle. It is a clear demonstration that collaborative Government-service provider partnerships, seed funded by the private sector, have a vital role to play in the not-for-profit sector - and in this instance - can make a significant difference for people experiencing homelessness.

Comments attributed to Minister for Community Services and Member for Fremantle Simone McGurk

It can be easy to forget that the collection of blankets and jackets in a sheltered doorway is hiding a person whose dreams and goals in life have given way to hopelessness and homelessness.

Homelessness is not who these people are. It is a result of circumstance and individual experience to date – something they are experiencing at this point in time.

It is important that we look to long-term solutions that are based on evidence as we work to address this complex community issue, instead of simply moving the problem out of sight.

Today’s announcement demonstrates what can be achieved when we work together towards the same goal, and I thank the leadership of the not-for-profits, business donors and local government for their efforts.

Comments attributed to Matthew McNeilly, Managing Director, Sirona Capital

At the point Sirona was about to turn Kings Square into a construction site, I realised the redevelopment would displace a significant number of people who were using the doorways and vacant shops of the old Myer and Queensgate buildings for shelter.

I didn’t want anyone to be negatively impacted by the redevelopment, particularly the people sleeping rough.

I remember overhearing a local business owner’s disparaging comment about a homeless person, saying that someone should do something about these people. The reality is it takes multiple ‘someones’, hence this initiative.

Comments attributed to Debra Zanella, Chief Executive, Ruah Community Services

While a roof over a head goes a long way to keeping people safe and warm for the night, we need a broad and collaborative solution to end rough sleeping and that is what 20:20 will deliver – a person-centred approach that links people to accommodation and support services that can address personal circumstances.

Ruah has seen the results this approach can achieve through the 50 Lives 50 Homes collaborative in metropolitan Perth. 50 Lives 50 Homes has successfully housed 217 people in 174 houses, so we are privileged to be invited to deliver this targeted program to Fremantle, in partnership with St Patrick’s Community Support Centre, the State Government and the private sector.

We believe the success of the 50 Lives 50 Homes program is proof that ending rough sleeping in WA is achievable, as we work toward tackling the much broader and complex issue of homelessness.

Homelessness has lifelong impacts on adults and children, and there are significant costs to the community, including health care, justice services and social services support.  Homelessness doesn’t discriminate between families with children and individuals, age, mental health, domestic violence or other life circumstances.

Comments attributed to Dr. Brad Pettitt, Mayor, City of Fremantle

It is so wonderful to see this this partnership not just between the state and local government but one anchored around an extraordinarily generous contribution from the private sector with connections to Fremantle.

This commitment to solve rough sleeping, rather than just manage it, is potentially a game changer on an issue that has sadly become more prevalent in many communities.

I look forward to seeing some of the most vulnerable people in Fremantle being given a home and the support they need to get their lives back together.

Comments attributed to Michael Piu, Chief Executive, St Patrick’s Community Services

It is clear that there is a significant need in Fremantle to find innovative solutions addressing homelessness, which has a devastating impact on individuals and the broader community. Building on existing collaborations with Ruah, Foundation Housing, other  partner agencies, along with the City of Fremantle and State Government, we have an ideal opportunity to leverage our learning and success more broadly in Perth – particularly 50 Lives 50 Homes – to deliver a tailored, place-based approach here in Fremantle with the aim of ultimately ending homelessness including rough sleeping in our community.

We know that early intervention, quality support, and stable long-term housing leads to positive long-term outcomes for people who are sleeping rough.

The 20 Lives 20 Homes program will make a significant difference in working with people who are rough sleeping here in Fremantle.  St Pats has two highly experienced caseworkers identifying and engaging with people on the ground, and early indications are positive, with work already underway towards housing vulnerable individuals who have lived long term on the streets.  

Comments attributed to Dylan Smith, Executive Officer, Fremantle Foundation

It’s been wonderful to see such generosity for this project come forward. Clearly, homelessness in Fremantle is an issue that people care deeply about.

20 Lives 20 Homes shows what can happen when we all pull together – non-profit organisations, local and state government, business and philanthropy – to make a significant impact.

The Fremantle community can now get right behind St. Pat’s and Ruah over the next two years to help people off our streets and settled into a house.