Early intervention program diverts at-risk families from homelessness

Centre for Social Impact

Vulnerable families on the brink of homelessness have been diverted into safe and secure housing through an innovative early intervention pilot program to combat Western Australia’s housing crisis.

As cost-of-living pressures, low vacancy rates, high rental costs and growing wait lists for public housing, Centrecare’s Entrypoint Outreach Program has provided rapid support to prevent more than three quarters of at-risk families it dealt with from falling into homelessness.

The Centre for Social Impact at The University of Western Australia was engaged to evaluate the pilot program, conducting interviews, surveys and reviewing internal and external databases.

It found, of the 950 participants, 83 per cent of families at high risk of homelessness were diverted into homes, 58 per cent of people who were already homeless found housing, and 93 per cent were confident in their future ability to apply for housing.

Almost all families affected by family and domestic violence (97 per cent) were not returning to a violent situation.

The Centre for Social Impact UWA Director Professor Paul Flatau said the critical early intervention support worked to relieve the pressure on the overwhelmed public housing system by identifying people most at risk.

“The short two-to six-week intervention program targeted a new cohort of people who were either recently homeless or at immediate risk, and provided rapid, holistic support, assisting 261 adults and 402 children into safe and secure housing,” Professor Flatau said.

“While public housing is essential to reducing the rate of homelessness, Entrypoint Outreach’s model represents a new low-cost early intervention approach that complements existing strategies.”

The Entrypoint Outreach program helped participants by improving their skills and knowledge to obtain stable housing. It offered ongoing support to maintain tenancies and harnessed Centrecare’s extensive and established networks in the housing sector.

Centrecare CEO Adjunct Professor Tony Pietropiccolo AM said that with more funding the pilot program could be expanded to reach more vulnerable families across WA and the nation.

“Entrypoint Outreach has successfully challenged the idea that the private rental housing market is out of reach for those experiencing homelessness, overcoming the limitations of solely focussing on public and community housing options,” said Mr Pietropiccolo.

“As the housing crisis grows, innovative programs like the Entrypoint Outreach Program are particularly valuable in relieving pressure on an overburdened public response system.”

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