On Friday 17 August 2018, the official findings from research into the effectiveness of the Hope to Home (Melton and Whittlesea) pilot programs were released in a report launched at Victoria University, Footscray Park.
The launch featured:
- Stories of Hope video in which two young people shared their experience of homelessness and the assistance they received from Hope Street, produced by Woodgrove Shopping Centre Melton
- Donna Bennett, Hope Street CEO opening the launch and introducing key speakers
- Dr Michelle Ball, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Victoria University, member of the Institute for Health and sport (iHeS) and Deputy Head of the Clinical and Community Health and Wellbeing Research Program
- Dr Peter Gill and Dr Daniel Ooi, Victoria University researchers and members of the Institute for Health and sport (iHeS) presenting the report findings
- Zara, one of the young participants in the Hope to Home in Whittlesea pilot program who, through a live interview with Hope Street Programs Manager (North East), Christine Fagan, recounted how the program helped her and her young family to find a safe place to call home and enabled her to continue her studies.
Hope Street partnered with Gandel Philanthropy, Raine and Horne Melton, and the City of Melton to implement a two-year pilot in the Growth Corridor of the City of Melton to test a model for transitioning – and where possible diverting – young people and young families out of homelessness by accessing private rental.
In January 2017, the pilot was expanded to the City of Whittlesea in partnership with the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Ray White Real Estate Thomastown, Barry Plant Real Estate, City of Whittlesea Council, and housing services in the Whittlesea local government area, with identical aims and rationale as the Melton pilot program.
Summary of Hope to Home Findings
Hope to Home accomplished its primary goal of assisting homeless young people into the private rental market. By participating in the program, young people also began developing a rental history, as well as gaining valuable knowledge and skills relating to securing and maintaining leases.
The Hope to Home pilot housed 72 people in total, including 45 (from 73 referrals) young people and 27 dependent children. This number was greater than what was expected.
There were 31 tenancies in total across Melton and Whittlesea, with a range of living arrangements; in particular, there were predominantly one and two children families and single occupancies. The Hope to Home clients were from diverse backgrounds and most clients relied on temporary, unstable accommodation prior to entering the program.
Clients were successfully housed in private rental, on average, within five and a half weeks of commencing the program.
There were 21 tenancies of longer than 6 months duration at the time of data analysis for this report.
More than 75% of clients found their Hope to Home accommodation both affordable and suitable. Overwhelmingly, participants felt the accommodation was suitable for their needs and gave them access to schools, employment, services, family, and friends.
What the clients found beneficial
- Wrap around service: Clients were impressed with the broad range of services offered by Hope to Home. The services were offered for the entire duration of their tenancies
- Support from case managers: Clients reported the important role of case managers in relieving some of their stress relating to securing housing. Case managers were reported to have gone beyond expectations.
- Lack of rental history: Overwhelmingly, clients reported that their lack of rental history was a barrier to renting. Hope to Home services and lease co-signing helped to overcome this.
- Knowledge and skills: Clients reported gaining skills and knowledge that could help them secure and maintain leases in the future.
- Flexibility to address diverse needs: Clients were diverse in their situations and needs. Hope to Home was able to tailor services to each client.
The Hope to Home Model: Why is it Unique?
- Supporting growth corridors in Melbourne: Hope to Home was unique in targeting the Melton and Whittlesea areas. Providing services in the clients’ neighbourhoods improved housing suitability, and employment and education outcomes.
- Supporting dependent children: 27 dependent children housed, highlights the need for services for young people with dependent children. Hope to Home may take pressure off other youth and family services.
- Rental education: Clients learned valuable skills and knowledge related to securing and maintaining rental properties.
- Ripple effects: Facilitating relationships between young people, and community and Hope to Home partners increases awareness and reduces stigma. This effect could grow with greater community participation in Hope to Home.
Victoria University researchers Dr Peter Gill and Dr Daniel Ooi commented on the Hope to Home pilot program:
"Hope to Home is unique in that it addresses homelessness at individual, relational, and community levels. As such Hope to Home can make a sustained contribution to homelessness in Australia"
"The community partnerships within Hope to Home help reduce stigma and also help integrate homeless young people within their communities"
"Hope to Home provides services in the young people’s own neighbourhoods, which helps facilitate sustained success"
"The large number of dependent children housed in the Hope to Home program was unexpected, and has the potential to remove pressure from child and family services more broadly"
"The growth corridors of Melbourne are in need of services like Hope to Home"
You can access the entire launch in our 17 Aug 2018: Hope to Home Research Evaluation Report 2018 Launch Playlist
In concluding the launch, Hope Street CEO, Donna Bennett, said:
The Hope to Home pilot has demonstrated that it is a workable solution, that it is affordable to government and communities, and more importantly, that it has real and rippling benefits to communities. Young people along with our partners and supporters of Hope to Home in Melton and Whittlesea have shown what can be achieved collectively.
The Hope to Home pilot demonstrates a model that can provide vulnerable young people and young families with stability, a home, safety, a place to go to school and/or work, to be a family, to live, and to remain connected in their local community.
Speaking with Star Weekly's Sumeyya Ilanbey, Hope Street CEO Donna Bennett said:
The other thing we’ve learned is that it is important to have a dedicated investment for building and nurturing relationships with real estate agents to create access to private rentals for young people, but also local businesses to create employment and training opportunities.
Read the full article
The evaluation has identified how the model can be improved to increase its capacity in providing services to more young people and children in growth corridors. Hope Street is currently discussing a proposal for funding of this model with the Department of Health and Human Services. Further details on the outcome will be provided on our website.
Hope Street congratulates the young people who were a part of the pilot and continue to be a part of the program. Special thanks goes to our partners and supporters who have made the pilot possible, the speakers at the launch and the Victoria University researchers who have evaluated this new model for improving the lives of young people affected by homelessness.