Other Common Ground Initiatives
Street to Home
Street to Home is a model that identifies the most vulnerable rough sleepers and ends their homelessness through the provision of housing and support. Street to Home was developed by Common Ground New York and the model is increasingly being adapted across Australia, including in Melbourne by HomeGround Services.
Registry Week is the name given to a methodology used to develop an accurate registry of the needs of the rough sleepers in a city, town or suburb by identifying individuals who are permanently, or frequently, living on the street. The purpose of doing this is to identify the most vulnerable in order to prioritise them for housing and support.
In the early hours of the morning, for 3 consecutive days, teams of volunteers and outreach workers in each city survey homeless individuals sleeping in parks, other public spaces and in emergency accommodation and homelessness services programs. Volunteers use a survey tool called the Vulnerability Index to capture housing, health, institutional history and other relevant data so the most vulnerable people sleeping rough can be prioritised for housing and support services.
Registry Weeks are taking place in cities and towns all over the United States through Common Ground National's 100,000 Homes initiative – see www.100khomes.org.
In Australia in 2010 the Australian Common Ground Alliance, with the on-site support of Rosanne Haggerty's Common Ground National team, has driven Registry Week in inner city areas of Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. The ACGA will support similar projects planned for other capital and regional cities.
The Vulnerability Index developed by US researcher Dr Jim O’Connell from Boston’s Healthcare for the Homeless, is based on research that showed the presence of eight key health indicators puts a chronically homeless person at significant risk of dying. This includes people who have been homeless the longest, have the most disabling conditions, and are least likely to access shelter resources. Typically they have spent years cycling between the street, emergency shelters, hospitals and jails. Dr O'Connell's Vulnerability Index is being adapted for use in Australian situations.
What happens next?
Once people are identified as highly vulnerable and at greatest risk, an intensive process begins to assess and negotiate housing options and to permanently house people as soon as possible. Support can range from helping individuals fill out forms and obtain benefits to personalised mental health counselling, rehabilitation programs to life skills training.
The goal is to get people into housing and help them remain housed.
The Australian experience
During 2010 Australian Common Ground Alliance members Micah Projects (Brisbane), HomeGround Services (Melbourne) and the Mercy Foundation (Sydney) coordinated Registry Weeks with the support of a range of non-government, government and corporate partners.
* This means having general health and mental health problems and a history of substance abuse.
Data averaged from Registry Weeks in the US compared to Australian averages (collated from Vulnerability Surveys undertaken in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney during 2010).
Read more about Registry Week in each city:
Read about Brisbane’s 50 Lives 50 Homes campaign at http://www.micahprojects.org.au/categories/view/58/50-lives-50-homes-campaign
See more on Melbourne’s Street to Home at http://www.homeground.org.au, http://www.homeground.org.au/case-studies/streettohome, http://www.facebook.com/MS2HFB and http://twitter.com/_MS2H
Sydney Registry Week results can be viewed at http://www.mercyfoundation.com.au
During Brisbane Registry Week in June 2010, 231 people were surveyed and the work of housing the most vulnerable started immediately. The Micah Projects Street to Home team continues to add people to the register, which has now grown to 265 individuals. By early December, over 40 vulnerable and chronically homeless people had been provided with housing and support.