Bridge Housing’s Manager Partnerships and Support Coordination, Sarah Kingsbeer, today presented at the Homelessness NSW conference on the experiences and learnings from the Step to Home program to get people experiencing homelessness into safe, secure housing.

97% of clients have sustained their tenancies in the first 18 months of the four-year program, she told the two-day “Hidden but not Forgotten” event in Wollongong in a presentation with Fiona Murray Service Manager, Step at our project support partner Neami National.

With funding from the Department of Communities and Justice, Step to Home takes a housing first approach and aims to house 90 people experiencing homelessness. Wrap around support is provided by Neami National to clients for 18 months. Metro Community Housing and the Women’s Housing Company are also housing people under the program.

From September 2018 to February 2020, Step to Home has supported:

  • 72 households
  • 42% of them female tenants
  • 14%of them (culturally and linguistically diverse) CALD tenants
  • 11% of them Aboriginal tenants.

The key learnings were:

  • Quality tenancy management is critical to supporting tenant wellbeing
  • Tenancy sustainment is possible but requires swift responses
  • Key touch points and issues are shared between community housing providers and support service e.g. signs ups, inspections, rent arrears, neighbour complaints
  • Housing sourced from the private rental market can be a successful Housing First response.

Two participants summarised their experience of Step to Home as follows:

“I have lived on the street for a long time, so it was hard to believe people when they tell you they could help with long term housing….so I was hesitant through the referral process. Thankfully everything worked out well”

“It was difficult at first, I was not used to being on my own. When you are homeless and living on the streets, you are constantly with others. You build a community on the streets, so it was very difficult to let go. Thankfully I was able to adjust to the silence.”

Learn more about Step to Home.

Photo: Sarah Kingsbeer (L) and Fiona Murray