Pilot housing project lands in Canberra

Representatives from CatholicCare, the ACT Government, St Vincent de Paul Society and Housing ACT (Catholic Voice)

Twenty of Canberra’s most disadvantaged people will be given permanent homes thanks to a collaboration between Catholic­Care, the St Vincent de Paul Society and the ACT Government. Source: Catholic Voice.

The Axial Housing program, launched last month, follows a “Housing First” principle that people need a permanent home before other issues - such as mental health and drug and alcohol support - are tackled.

A permanent home provides stability for someone to get other aspects of their life back on track, such as work or alcohol rehabilitation.

The Housing First model has been successful overseas and been implemented in Melbourne and Sydney.

“We are excited to deliver a Housing First pilot in Canberra,” said Anne Kirwan, CatholicCare Canberra and Goulburn's chief executive.

The ACT Government will provide 20 properties for the two-year pilot program while CatholicCare and the St Vincent de Paul Society will provide residents with support services.

St Vincent de Paul Society ACT chief executive Barnie Van Wyk said that despite ABS Census figures from 2016 show­ing homelessness had decreased in the ACT, there was still a significant problem with rough sleepers.

Mr Van Wyk estimated there were 40 to 70 people sleeping rough in the ACT and Vin­nies had identified about 180 homeless people with complex support needs.

CatholicCare’s Assessment Manager Toni la Brooy said it was significant that the program allowed residents to keep pets.

“Most people on the streets have a pet because that’s their family,” Ms la Brooy said. “If they can’t take their pet with them they’d rather stay on the streets than leave the animal behind.”

One man and his pet dog have moved into one of the five properties that have already been provided.

Ms la Brooy has worked in the homeless sector for 16 years and said they had so far received five applications from homeless men, aged 35 to 83, needing permanent accommoda­tion.

“We have 20 properties we didn’t have before,” she said. “It’s fantastic. We’re so excited.”

PHOTO: Lisa Higginson (CatholicCare), left, ACT Minister Yvette Berry, Anne Kirwan (CatholicCare), Patrick McKenna (St Vincent de Paul) and Louise Gilding (Housing ACT)

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A man, a dog and a new home (Catholic Voice)

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