Housing and homelessness

Homelessness means sleeping rough or staying in temporary, unstable or substandard accommodation. It has a big impact on individuals and families and an economic cost to the whole community. The many and varied causes include shortage of affordable housing, domestic and family violence, family breakdown, unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse and mental illness. Some groups—like older people, people in housing stress, women and children leaving domestic and family violence, Indigenous people and people exiting state care—are at particular risk. Some people only become homeless once, but others cycle in and out of homelessness over the long-term, and some struggle to move on from specialist homelessness services because they have nowhere else to go.

Policy responses require work across all levels of government and coordination between housing, human services and health and specialist homelessness services. The emphasis is on prevention and early intervention, tackling the structural drivers of homelessness and targeting groups at risk. But there is also a focus on strengthening responses and breaking the cycle when homelessness occurs.  

Initiatives include development of affordable housing, private rental assistance, community and social housing, tenancy advice and support services, crisis accommodation, and integrated housing and support services to help people who are homeless to access and maintain housing.


Project examples

Click on any of the following projects for more information.

Evaluation of Gold Coast Housing Assistance Triage Project

(Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works, 2015)

Evaluation of Gold Coast Housing Assistance Triage Project

(Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works, 2015)

The pilot was funded to provide the Department of Housing and Public Works with evidence about how to best support the integration of processes for people accessing homelessness and housing services and related support. The service model was also designed to divert people from formal housing assistance as much as possible by supporting them to access or maintain housing in the private rental market and/ or assisting them to transition to lower subsidy housing products. The service included both centre-based and outreach access, and enhanced brokerage funding.

The evaluation had a service development focus whilst also assessing the effectiveness of the model and service integration and the resultant client outcomes. A range of evidence sources were used: discussions with GCHATS and service partners during five reference group meetings; interviews with GCHATS staff and reference group members; case studies at three partner services involved interviews with caseworkers and clients; a survey of caseworkers and a review of client administration data. 

Barriers to accessing Housing Pathways

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2015)

Barriers to accessing Housing Pathways

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2015)

This project extends ARTD's recent evaluation of Housing Pathways, which found that older people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and Aboriginal people have difficulty accessing social housing. The current work will explore barriers to access, and identify practical suggestions for improving access within the current system. It includes an online survey of all Housing NSW and community housing provider staff responsible for access, as well as in-depth consultation with these staff in selected regions. Aboriginal and CALD advocates will also be consulted.

Evaluation of the HomeStay Support Initiative

(Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works, 2014)

Evaluation of the HomeStay Support Initiative

(Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works, 2014)

HomeStay is an early and post-crisis intervention service targeting people who are at risk of or have previously been homeless. ARTD was commissioned to evaluate the initiative to determine whether it had met its intended aims and objectives, and to inform future investment decisions. We used a mixed-methods approach, including interviews with all HomeStay Coordinators (n=16) and relevant Department representatives (n=35), an online survey of caseworkers and referral partners, interviews with current and previous clients (n=40), and a client case file analysis (n=20). The evaluation also drew on client data aggregated to the service provider level (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2009–10 to 2012–13) and costs and acquittals data drawn from the Department’s Periodic Performance Reports. It involved case studies in 4 of the 16 HomeStay service provider locations. The evaluation identified key elements of the model and where the service fits in the suite of homelessness services. The evaluation was a key piece of evidence for ongoing investment decisions between the Department and the Commonwealth pertaining to the homelessness and housing service mix in Queensland.

Review of the Private Rental Brokerage Service

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2014)

Review of the Private Rental Brokerage Service

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2014)

The Private Rental Brokerage Service operates by working intensively with eligible clients to develop and enhance their capacity to access the private rental market. The service focuses on brokering the establishment of individual private rental tenancies with local real estate agents and landlords, while ensuring support arrangements are in place to sustain the tenancy. This strategic review evaluated the delivery of the service and the outcomes achieved. It considered the service in the context of the Private Rental Assistance Strategic Framework. The review included an options paper for FACS executives to consider the future delivery of the service in the current policy context.

Evaluation of the Employment Related Accommodation Program

(NSW Aboriginal Housing Office, 2014)

Evaluation of the Employment Related Accommodation Program

(NSW Aboriginal Housing Office, 2014)

The Employment Related Accommodation Program is an initiative under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing. Established in 2009, it was intended to provide Indigenous people from remote areas secure and affordable accommodation in regional centres while they undertake full-time study or become established in new employment. In January 2014, ARTD was contracted to evaluate the initial period of Program implementation. We took a mixed-methods approach, making use of existing monitoring and costs data, and collecting new data from housing providers, tenants and other stakeholders. The evaluation findings will inform future roll-out of the program, as well as program improvement in existing sites.

Development of framework for Sustaining Aboriginal Tenancies

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2014)

Development of framework for Sustaining Aboriginal Tenancies

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2014)

We used a consultative and iterative process to develop a framework for Sustaining Aboriginal Tenancies across Social Housing. The project began with a review of published literature, consultations across the state with Aboriginal service providers, and a state-wide forum of service providers from across the social housing sector. We used the information to develop a draft framework, which was then tested with Housing NSW and Community Housing providers to ensure key issues were not overlooked and difficult issues were confronted head-on. The project delivered an evidence-based framework to guide social housing teams in supporting positive tenancy outcomes for Aboriginal clients. It has been published and printed for distribution by FACS to the social housing sector.

Evaluation of four long-term housing and support programs

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2012-13)

Evaluation of four long-term housing and support programs

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2012-13)

The NSW Homelessness Action Plan 2009–14 set the direction for statewide reform of the homelessness service system to achieve better outcomes for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. It funded a range of projects using evidence-based models. ARTD was engaged to evaluate four of the funded long-term housing and support projects. We used a mixed-method design: scanning the literature, analysing project self-evaluation reports and HAP client outcomes data, assessing costs, and collecting new data through online stakeholder surveys and in-depth interviews with stakeholders and clients. We provided individual reports for each project and an overarching report on the model, which are now available on the Housing NSW website. The evaluations—along with others on different models—were used to inform future homelessness planning.

Impact evaluation of housing reform in NSW

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2012)

Impact evaluation of housing reform in NSW

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2012)

Housing Pathways was a significant housing reform designed to make it simpler, easier and fairer for people to access housing assistance in NSW. ARTD looked at the impact of key actions to achieve an integrated social housing system, including a common application form and waitlist. The evaluation involved an online survey of Housing NSW and community housing providers (n=350), interviews with key policy and program stakeholders (n=15), interviews with recent applicants (n=350), analysis of administrative data, and a review of program and policy documents. ARTD’s findings identified the key strengths of the new approach and opportunities for further streamlining.

Preparation and management of tendering process for housing project

(Mission Australia Housing, 2012)

Preparation and management of tendering process for housing project

(Mission Australia Housing, 2012)

The Camperdown Project—based on the successful Common Ground model from New York—provides permanent homes and on-site support services to promote health and housing stability. ARTD prepared and managed the tendering process to appoint a non-government organisation to coordinate the project’s support services. We organised stakeholder consultation, coordinated the tendering process, and provided a report identifying the preferred tenderer. Our capacity to effectively manage different stakeholder expectations and deliver within a very tight timeframe meant that the client was able to provide continuity of service support.

Evaluation of the One Social Housing System

(Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works, 2011-12)

Evaluation of the One Social Housing System

(Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works, 2011-12)

The One Social Housing System was a broad suite of reforms designed to simplify tenants’ access to social housing. ARTD worked with the Evaluation Reference Group to design a framework for evaluating the reform at system level. Data was drawn from secondary sources, including the Housing Register and National Survey of Public Housing, and new data collection included a tenant survey and key stakeholder interviews at two case study sites. Our work was the first systematic exploration of the new policy reforms, giving the new Queensland Government insight into issues affecting the social housing sector.

Evaluation framework for rural housing pilot

(Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works, 2011)

Evaluation framework for rural housing pilot

(Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works, 2011)

The 2011-2013 Rural Housing Service Centre in Maranoa pilot was intended to consolidate housing service provision in the region, provide local access to housing services, build the capacity of the council as a housing provider, and give the council the opportunity to invest in the supply of social and affordable housing. The mining boom in the area had impacted adversely on the cost of buying and renting accommodation. 

ARTD was engaged to develop an evaluation framework and strategy for the pilot so that the outcomes could be systematically and objectively measured. We reviewed pilot and policy documentation and the literature on evaluations of similar models to draft the framework. We then consulted with key stakeholders to refine these and provided a final framework and plan to guide the evaluation. The framework has been used to guide the monitoring and evaluation of the pilot.

Evaluation of pilot rental subsidy scheme

(Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works, 2011)

Evaluation of pilot rental subsidy scheme

(Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works, 2011)

Rent Start was a pilot rental subsidy scheme delivered in four locations across Queensland. ARTD was commissioned to evaluate the pilot to determine the extent to which it had met its objectives. We used a mixed-methods design, drawing on administrative data, interviews with tenants (n=25), community housing provider staff (n=12), Department staff (n=10), and costs data. Our report assessed how well the program had drawn on the private rental market to meet housing needs, reduced client dependence on social housing, maximised the annual financial allocation for social housing, and created new opportunities for investment in private housing. The Government used our report to assess how well the program fit among its suite of private rental assistance products.

Evaluation of cross-agency homelessness intervention project

(NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, 2010)

Evaluation of cross-agency homelessness intervention project

(NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, 2010)

The Homelessness Intervention Project comprised the Homeless Intervention Team and the Nepean Youth Homelessness Service, two cross-agency projects that provide clients with long-term accommodation and support. ARTD evaluated the project, with a focus on identifying enablers and barriers to successful implementation, assessing the extent to which the projects met their objectives, and understanding systemic issues affecting homelessness intervention. Our methods included analysis of administrative and client data, a desktop review of project reports and interviews with project staff and key stakeholders. We also analysed the cost-effectiveness of the projects. Our report outlined implications relevant to future NSW Government policies to address homelessness.

Communicating Aboriginal housing reform in NSW to the sector

(NSW Aboriginal Housing Office, 2010)

Communicating Aboriginal housing reform in NSW to the sector

(NSW Aboriginal Housing Office, 2010)

The Build and Grow Sector Reform Framework was developed to build a strong, dynamic and vibrant Aboriginal community housing sector into the future. ARTD was engaged to prepare a clear and concise document explaining the reforms to be distributed to housing service providers. Our brief outlined the vision for the sector, the need for the new approach, what the new approach involved in practice and next steps.