Page 2333 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 5 August 2015
MS BERRY: The Common Ground model differs because it is not a crisis service or homeless shelter. It is a permanent housing solution. It offers a “housing first”, not a “treatment first”, approach, which means support offered is tailored to tenants’ needs and housing is not contingent on the tenant first agreeing to engage with treatment or support.
Common Ground Canberra is based on a number of important principles, including: permanence—there is no time limit on rental tenure; tenant mix—tenants are comprised of a fifty-fifty split between formerly homeless and low income/affordable housing tenants; safety—a 24-hour concierge service is provided to ensure security of access; supportive—tenancy management and on-site support services are provided free of charge; affordability—rents are set at no more than 25 per cent of tenant income for formerly homeless tenants and at no more than 74.9 per cent of market rent for affordable housing tenants; being engaged with the local community—group activities and programs are provided to support tenant participation with the program and wider community; and quality—accommodation is of the highest quality and sustainably designed.
Common Ground works on the principle that if the chronic homeless can live in non-time-limited housing with support then they are more likely to build the skills and capacities to take up opportunities for education and employment which will help end chronic homelessness. Ultimately, this means people are supported to more fully participate in the social and economic life of the community.
MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Dr Bourke.
DR BOURKE: Minister, how does Common Ground complement the government’s overall commitment to social housing and homelessness services?
MS BERRY: Chronically homeless people remain one of the most difficult target groups to engage with due to a variety of structural, systemic and individual barriers. The ACT government is committed to addressing homelessness, and our longstanding commitment to establishing Common Ground Canberra provides a stronger link between homelessness services and social housing accommodation.
The model complements the government’s overall commitment to the role of social housing in fostering community inclusion. Common Ground maximises opportunities for social inclusion and the benefits of mixed communities through the provision of public housing in most parts of our city. Common Ground builds on our high level of social housing and targeting housing assistance to those most in need.
Some 95 per cent of our public housing tenants are from low income households. Almost 40 per cent of public housing dwellings are home to people living with disability. Almost two-thirds of our main tenants are women, and just over two-thirds of single older tenants are women.
The ACT has the highest level of social housing of all jurisdictions—almost 30 dwellings per 1,000 people compared to the national average of 17 dwellings per