The McGowan Government brings forward its Housing First Homelessness Initiative in Bunbury.
A major project to address homelessness in Bunbury has been brought forward to provide rough sleepers with stable housing and support. The State Government has been looking for ways to fast-track projects that will support the community in areas of critical need, as part of its response to COVID-19.
Community Services Minister Simone McGurk announced that the Department of Communities had commenced negotiations to appoint Ruah Community Services as the coordinating body - or 'backbone' - of the Bunbury project.
In December 2019, the McGowan Government announced a record $71.8 million funding boost for homelessness services to support the implementation of the State's first 10-year strategy on homelessness. This record funding package includes $34.5 million for the Housing First Homelessness Initiative, which extends successful housing-first collective impact approaches to Bunbury and other locations across Western Australia.
Under the initiative, funding will be delivered for private rental subsidies to house 20 individuals or families each year. The funding will also employ additional case workers to identify and work alongside people experiencing homelessness, engage them with support services and work to address the issues that led to them becoming homeless. The Housing First model model puts safe and permanent housing as the first priority for people experiencing homelessness.
The principles and approach of Housing First underpin a large part of our Strategy to End Homelessness in WA. In early 2019, we commissioned the development of some early-stage exploration into this approach in the WA setting, including the creation of a number of resources for the community sector and others working to end homelessness.
WA Alliance to End Homelessness (Alliance) Executive Officer John Berger said this was a welcome announcement.
"The Alliance and Shelter WA is pleased the State Government is progressing the implementation of Housing First in WA," he said. "We are encouraged that the collaborative impact approach is being supported by government built on the success of the 50 Lives 50 Homes Steering Committee and community sector. This is a testament of the collaborative work of the sector to achieve significant change in the lives of those experiencing long term and chronic homelessness.
"We and Shelter WA along with the sector, looks forward to continuing our progression towards ending rough sleeping in WA."
A census of known rough sleepers was recently undertaken in Bunbury, with a view to developing personal intervention plans for each person identified. This process identified approximately 70 people sleeping rough in Bunbury.