Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness Mark Arbib today met with the founder of innovative United States homelessness initiative Common Ground, Rosanne Haggerty, during a visit to a social housing project under construction in Sydney’s Camperdown.
Jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales Governments under A Place to Call Home project, the Camperdown Common Ground Project will provide 104 self-contained units for vulnerable Australians once complete.
Senator Arbib said the Australian Government has contributed more than $38 million to A Place to Call Home in New South Wales as part of the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.
“This inner city housing project is based on the highly successful New York Common Ground initiative founded by Ms Haggerty in 1990,” Senator Arbib said.
“The Camperdown Common Ground Project, due for completion in October, will offer tenants more than just a safe place to live – it will help foster a sense of community connecting residents to social and support networks.
“Half the tenants in the development will be people who have experienced, or are at high risk of homelessness, while the other half will be tenants on low incomes. All the tenants who live in Common Ground have the chance to remove themselves from the cycle of homelessness.
“With quality public transport and civic infrastructure nearby, the Camperdown Common Ground Project’s central location will help give residents the chance to pursue a range of study and work opportunities.
“They will also have access to on-site support services around the clock.”
Since its inception 20 years ago, the New York-based Common Ground project has become a leader in the development of supportive housing and other research-based practices that end homelessness.
Its network of affordable apartments, linked to key support services to help residents maintain housing, restore health, and regain economic independence, has enabled more than 4,000 individuals to overcome homelessness.
Senator Arbib said the award-winning New York model, in which tenants take responsibility for their own apartment and pay rent, has been the inspiration for the Camperdown project and 10 other Common Ground developments around Australia.
“I applaud everyone involved in this groundbreaking initiative, which will be a welcome addition to Sydney’s inner-city community,” Senator Arbib said.
“It has been great to have Ms Haggerty in Australia to share her expertise with us. She is a world leader in homelessness solutions and I know Australia has much to gain from her input.
“The Australian Government has made homelessness a national priority and has invested around $5 billion in additional funding for homelessness since 2008.
“We will invest $103,400 to the Australian Common Ground Alliance to assist their national leadership role in delivering and promoting Common Ground housing projects.
“This funding will enable the Alliance to also continue the development of a national database of information on rough sleepers, and coordinate a series of national supportive housing seminars and workshops.
“All of this is critical to our efforts to reduce and prevent homelessness in this country.”
Senator Arbib said the Gillard Government was continuing to work with the New South Wales Government to support our vulnerable citizens.
“Both Governments have made a significant investment of $392 million over five years under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness to deliver new and better support and accommodation to homeless people in New South Wales,” Senator Arbib said.
“The Australian Government remains steadfast in its commitment to continue the strong partnership with the New South Wales Government and community sector to achieve a reduction in homelessness across New South Wales.”