Record funding boost to help homeless find Common Ground

Government of Western Australia

4th December 2019.

  • Biggest-ever State Government boost for homelessness services
  • $72 million investment forms part of WA's first 10-year homelessness strategy
  • Two 'Common Ground' facilities to help break the cycle of homelessness and give rough-sleeping Western Australians a place to call home
  • Successful 'Housing First' initiative extended to new locations across the State
  • Boost in addition to McGowan Government's $150 million Housing Investment Package to build more than
  • 500 new homes for those in most need 

The McGowan Labor Government will develop two 'Common Ground' facilities to house and support people who are sleeping rough or experiencing chronic homelessness.

The proven 'Common Ground' model of supportive housing offers a mix of permanent, affordable housing that is linked with dedicated, tailored support services that address the root causes of homelessness.

Its introduction to Western Australia demonstrates a shift in the way the State Government deals with the complexity of how people come to be experiencing homelessness, recognising that short-term crisis responses are only part of the solution.

Launching WA's 10-year strategy on homelessness, Premier Mark McGowan and Community Services Minister Simone McGurk today announced a $71.8 million funding increase for homelessness services.

The new investment, which represents the largest-ever State Government funding increase for homelessness services, builds on the $150 million Housing Investment Package announced yesterday (December 3).

The McGowan Government's total investment of almost $222 million is directed at helping Western Australians strive for home ownership or a quality home to live in and will help tackle homelessness across WA.

The planning, design and construction of the 'Common Ground' facilities will receive $35 million over three years.

The model originated in New York City more than 20 years ago and has since been adopted in other Australian States and Territories.

It brings together people on low incomes and others at risk of homelessness in a residential complex that includes self-contained apartments, communal areas and office spaces.

For those with high needs, housing is coupled with an intensive, case-managed support program to help them maintain their tenancy and improve their lives.

The Department of Communities and City of Perth have commenced initial negotiations to determine the best location for the first facility in the central Perth area.

In addition, $34.5 million has been set aside over five years for a Housing First Homelessness Initiative (including rental subsidies) to extend successful housing-first collective impact approaches to new locations across WA including in Perth, Rockingham, Mandurah, Bunbury and Geraldton.

The co-ordination of, and access to, homelessness services will also be improved by new investment in in-house data and case management.

The new homelessness strategy, All Paths Lead to a Home - Western Australia's 10-Year Strategy on Homelessness 2020-2030, sets out a vision where everyone has a safe place to call home and is supported to achieve stable and independent lives.

The strategy, developed in partnership with the community services sector, is the result of 18 months of research and consultations around the State, and will focus on achieving outcomes across four areas:

  • Providing safe, secure and stable homes;
  • Preventing homelessness;
  • Improving Aboriginal wellbeing; and
  • Strengthening and co-ordinating responses. 

The new funding is on top of the more than $90 million the State Government already spends on specialist homelessness services a year.

To learn more about the strategy, visit https://www.communities.wa.gov.au/homelessness-strategy

Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:

"Homelessness is a complex issue with many contributing factors.

"People can find themselves experiencing homelessness for a wide range of reasons, including family and domestic violence, catastrophic life events such as job loss, mental health issues, alcohol and other drug use and financial stress.

"Safe and stable accommodation is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of people in our community.

"State and Federal government agencies, the community services sector, local government authorities and the wider community all have a part to play.

"That's why our $222 million investment is crucial in helping those in need get into a home, receive more support and break the cycle of homelessness."

Comments attributed to Community Services Minister Simone McGurk:

"We know homelessness is an issue that we are grappling with in Western Australia, along with many other modern economies.

"The model being implemented is built on the best evidence available, so we can be confident that this landmark funding will make a real difference.

"The 'Common Ground' model aims to provide a safe, secure, affordable and permanent housing option for people experiencing homelessness repeatedly, or over a long period of time.

"It will provide a safe place where services are located on-site and support is available to people who may need employment assistance, have mental health issues or require medical referrals.

"This model has already proven effective in ending chronic homelessness for people who have in the past struggled to access and maintain housing.

"Most importantly, it will give some of the State's most vulnerable residents a place to call home."