Homelessness services the key to public housing tenancies for many vulnerable people - Media Release AIHW

20 May 2015

Specialist homelessness services play a key role in helping many vulnerable households to acquire and maintain public housing, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Exploring transitions between homelessness and public housing: 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2013, studied 19,000 public housing tenants in New South Wales and Western Australia who sought assistance from homelessness services during the two-year study period. 'What we found was that specialist homelessness agencies assisted in several ways- assisting clients who were homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness into public housing, providing support and advocacy to prevent existing public housing tenants losing their tenancies and, for some, providing services after they had left their public housing', said AIHW spokesperson Geoff Neideck.

Women and their children experiencing family and domestic violence were the largest group assisted in public housing in both states. The report also found that people who had a previous history of homelessness were at the highest risk of losing a tenancy.

In addition, where a tenant had children in their care, either as a single parent or as part of a couple, they were more likely to keep their public housing tenancy than single tenants without children.

People who exited public housing were more likely to report higher needs for mental health, psychological, drug and alcohol, gambling and legal/court support services. 'We found that the more days of support received from a homelessness service- be it prior to beginning a public housing tenancy, or during a tenancy- the more likely that the tenancy would be ongoing', Mr Neideck said.

Over 85% of the public housing tenants who received assistance at any time from a specialist homelessness agency had an ongoing tenancy at the end of June 2013. Over 90% of all clients studied were receiving government payments or pensions, while employment rates across the group were low at around 5%. The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra 13 May

Further information: Mr Geoff Neideck, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1163, mob. 0439 878 933

Full publication: Exploring transitions between homelessness and public housing: 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2013