Homelessness is not the result of personal failings. The main causes of homelessness are poverty, unaffordable rents, and family violence. Transitional housing helps vulnerable young people to stabilise their circumstances so that they can progress to long-term living arrangements. But are their 18-month tenures long enough?
“You can’t put a time frame on outcomes’’
– Tracy Ingram
Right now, nearly 200,000 Australians are waiting for public and community housing.
The longer they wait, the greater their risk of homelessness.
For young South Australians living in transitional housing with 18-month tenures, the clock is ticking.
When their time is up, they are required to move out of supported accommodation into long-term living arrangements.
While this keeps people cycling in and out of properties, it also poses difficulties when young people are not yet able to live independently of specialist support.
This may be due to unresolved crisis and other complexities – often linked to childhood trauma – such as poor mental health, drug and alcohol issues, family breakdown, and accrued debt.
These challenges are exacerbated by the state’s high unemployment, a shortage of affordable housing, and the existing rate of benefit payments.
Seen as a stepping stone from crisis accommodation or other supported living arrangements, transitional housing helps vulnerable young people to stabilise their circumstances and build their capacity to progress to longer-term living, in the private or public housing sectors.
While some move quickly through the system, others need more time to achieve a maximum degree of self-reliance and independence.
Extending transitional housing tenures would allow for this.
Sometimes another few months or one more year of stability, support and care might be all the young people need to move forward.
While the ONYHS has the capacity to work with clients post-transitional housing, if they don’t have a stable place to go, the young people are unlikely to reconnect with Centacare.
The current 18-month tenure does not allow for the transience of young people who might move through the system – and in and out of supported housing – a dozen times before they are ready to settle down and start addressing the issues causing instability in their lives.
We need to stop the clock!