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In-depth evaluation of Common Ground Sydney

image - Common Ground Square
Date Commenced:
Project Supporters:

Department of Family and Community Services - Housing NSW

Project Members: 
image - Lucy Burns Square 0
Honorary Associate Professor
Ph 02 9385 0258
image - 1354256378 Liz Whittaker Square
Ms Elizabeth Whittaker
Research Officer
Project Main Description: 

Common Ground Sydney opened on 15 November 2011 and is Australia’s third project based on the Common Ground model. Common Ground Sydney accommodates formerly chronically homeless people and people on low to moderate incomes in a socially integrated housing complex in inner Sydney. According to Housing NSW, Common Ground Sydney was initiated as part of a coordinated government response to homelessness and the Australian Government’s 2008 commitment to reduce the number of people sleeping rough by 25% by the year 2013. It aims to respond to high levels of homelessness and rough sleeping in the inner city of Sydney and to promote a model of ‘Street to Home’ housing coupled with support services.

Project Collaborators: External: 

Dr Shannon McDermott
School of Social Sciences, UNSW

Dr Jane Bullen
Social Policy and Research Centre, UNSW

Dr Kristy Muir
Social Policy and Research Centre, UNSW

Professor Hal Pawson
City Futures Research Centre, UNSW

Judith Stubbs
Judith Stubbs and Associates

John Storer
Judith Stubbs and Associates


The purpose of the evaluation is to assess Common Ground Sydney’s effectiveness in facilitating sustainable housing for vulnerable, formerly chronically homeless people, many of whom have spent long periods sleeping rough. The evaluation aims to inform future planning and contribute to the evidence of what works to house this group. The evaluation of Common Ground Sydney will gather, collate and analyse data to measure progress towards the critical components of the Project.

Design and Method: 
To meet the aims of the evaluation, the research project utilises a longitudinal, mix-methods approach over 18 months. As such, the evaluation focuses on the following three streams of enquiry:
  • Stream 1: Resident outcomes - incorporating housing, health, mental health, social and economic outcomes for formerly homeless tenants.
  • Stream 2: Structure and process of service delivery - including the physical design of the building, the tenancy management and support provider partnerships; impact and relationships with other stakeholders and service providers.
  • Stream 3: Total costs and benefits - of Common Ground Sydney compared to other responses to homelessness, and compared to other Common Ground Projects across Australia. Where possible, calibrating the cost effectiveness of the project/approach, will also involve assessing the reduction or avoidance of costs incurred across NSW Government agencies, or other organisations as a result of entry into the project.               

Baseline and 12-month findings have been delivered to Housing NSW.


Baseline and 12-month findings have been delivered to Housing NSW.


Whittaker, E.*, Schollar-Root, O.*, Burns, L. 2014. Housing is the first step: Preliminary findings from two ‘Housing First’ evaluations. Presented at the NDARC in house seminar, Sydney, NSW, July 10th 2014.

Whittaker, E.* 2014. Research with individuals who are chronically homeless. Presented at the 2014 NDARC Annual Research Symposium, Sydney, NSW, September 8th 2014.

Whittaker, E.* & Burns, L. 2014. Homes for Sydney’s homeless: Findings of two ‘Housing First’ initiatives. Presented at The Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD) 2014, Adelaide, SA, November 9th-12th 2014.

Whittaker, E. & Burns, L.* 2014. The association between substance use and housing amongst people who inject drugs. Presented at The Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD) 2014, Adelaide, SA, November 9th-12th 2014.


This project will contribute to a comprehensive evidence base to inform future service planning and resource allocation for homelessness services in NSW. 

Project Research Area: 
Project Status: 
Year Completed: