August 23, 2018

Changes achieving better outcomes for lodging residents

Some significant changes in how Foundation Housing assesses individuals applying to live in its lodging accommodation is starting to bring about better outcomes for the organisation and its lodging residents.

At the heart of the change is a new requirement that people living with issues such mental illness or substance addiction have an agency support plan in place to manage the issue, prior to being offered a place in a lodge.   It’s an approach that recognises affordable accommodation combined with appropriate social or health support gives people the best chance of stabilising their lives and moving forward to a more positive future.

The change in policy was in response to challenges Foundation Housing faced in providing lodging accommodation for people in vulnerable situations.  Many had backgrounds of housing instability, generational social disadvantage, incarceration, or poorly managed chronic health issues or combinations of these things.  Without support, these behaviours often continue and are detrimental to other residents and Foundation Housing staff. They may also result in residents being reluctantly evicted, effectively moving the problem on to someone else to deal with.

A decision six months ago to introduce a more robust referral process has meant that residents are entering housing with a plan in place to manage their support needs. Iit also helps Foundation Housing to allocate them a room that best suits a resident’s individual needs.   As a consequence, the vacancy rate in the organisation’s lodging houses has fallen as people are staying longer and are encouraged to continue to engage with support.  Foundation Housing has recently had to advise referral partners that allocations are currently on hold due to the low number of vacancies.

CEO Kathleen Gregory says, “Our staff were spending their time responding to negative incidents instead of supporting residents who were doing the right thing. Antisocial behaviour contributed to a poor environment in some of the lodges and the frequent vacancies were a big financial drain for us as a not-for-profit community housing provider. Most of all, we weren’t achieving the outcomes we want to see for these vulnerable at risk people.’

“I’m very pleased that our new process has been so strongly supported by referring agencies and we are really grateful they of their partnering  to assist a very vulnerable group of people in our community.  Our collective impact is far greater than if we all try going it alone.  Our Allocations team has built some strong relationships with these agencies and as we move through our current waiting list, we’ll let them know straight away so they can again refer their clients needing accommodation.”