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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 3 August 2021) . . Page.. 2179 ..

During the COVID-19 pandemic the ACT government worked quickly and closely with sector partners to provide the support they required so that they could keep delivering essential services.

In March 2020 Housing ACT participated in three focus groups to look at issues specific to women’s services, chaired by Toora Women Inc; rough sleepers and homelessness, chaired by CatholicCare; and congregate or shared living accommodation settings, chaired by Havelock Housing Association. Discussed in all groups was the provision of suitable accommodation for those experiencing homelessness, domestic and family violence or living in shared accommodation settings, particularly if anyone in those situations was affected by COVID-19 and needed to self-isolate or quarantine.

Based on this collaboration with the sector, in April 2020 the ACT government provided $3 million to meet the anticipated increased demand on services from the impact of COVID-19 and to support new initiatives. Through this, we have delivered: a client support fund of $330,000 for the existing central referral agency, OneLink, to respond to increased demand on the homelessness services sector. As of 30 June 2021 approximately 73 individuals and families had received support through this service.

An example of this fund being used is a partnership with the YWCA Canberra and A Gender Agenda, through which OneLink filled a service gap for transgender people at risk of or experiencing homelessness and established a 12-month shared housing model of supported accommodation.

We delivered $832,000 for emergency and long-term accommodation support for men, women and children to keep people COVID-safe. This resulted in innovative and responsive solutions, including expanding the Axial Housing pilot to house rough sleepers during COVID-19. The program is based on housing-first principles and provides wraparound support that is needed to sustain a tenancy and not result in exits into homelessness after COVID-19. As of 30 June 2021, 26 people are currently engaged with the program.

There was the upgrading and opening of the Winter Lodge, run by Argyle Community Housing, as temporary accommodation for men experiencing homelessness during COVID-19. From May to October 2020 the lodge provided temporary accommodation and appropriate exits for 121 men experiencing homelessness during the colder months. Importantly, 44 of these clients were able to exit into longer term housing such as Havelock House, Ainslie Village or into the private market. As at 30 June 2021 a further 28 men have been accommodated since the service recommenced on 3 May 2021.

Funding has been provided for CatholicCare to provide safe housing for women and children experiencing homelessness during COVID-19. As at 30 June 2021 MacKillop House has housed approximately 56 clients and provides support services to build their capability to live independently.

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