In this report we highlight some of the 12 month preliminary findings of this two year research project that aims to change the way we work with chronically homeless men in Australia. From the 12 month results, four things stand out:
- 96.8 per cent of the men had retained their tenancies after 12 months;
- The men were much better connected to their local community and support networks;
- Their access to essential services - psychologists, dentists, public transport - had improved substantially; and
- The men were much safer and more secure, with 83 per cent saying their safety was much better or somewhat better after 12 months.
By providing immediate access to housing and the right mix of support services tailored to the individual, homelessness was 'solved' not just for some, but nearly all of these men. If we took a group of men with similar problems, who were living in unsupported public housing, we'd expect only half to still be housed after twelve months with the rest likely to be evicted and back on the streets or in emergency accommodation.
Stabilising their lives in the short term doesn't solve all problems. It takes time to unwind the impacts of years on the street. Providing a safe and supportive environment offers an opportunity to confront many challenges but it also puts in stark relief the problems they've long tried to forget, including estranged family and chronic illness.
The results of the MISHA project are promising, and with the final report due out in 2014 we will see if there has been a deep and lasting change for these men.