The Adelaide Zero Project to end homelessness

May 9, 2018

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (15:51): I rise today to speak about the Adelaide Zero Project. The Adelaide Zero Project aims to end street homelessness in Adelaide's CBD by using the 'functional zero' approach. A target has been set to achieve functional zero homelessness in Adelaide's inner city by the end of 2020. Functional zero homelessness is reached when the number of homeless people on any given night is no greater than the housing availability for that night.

 

In 2016, the rate of homelessness in South Australia was 37.1 per 10,000 people. Currently in the Adelaide CBD, there are approximately 120 people sleeping rough. The causes of homelessness are varied and are often caused by interrelated personal, social and economic factors. Mental illness, domestic violence, unemployment, a lack of affordable housing, disability and drug and alcohol misuse are factors that may lead to homelessness.

 

The functional zero approach was founded by Community Solutions, and it has been implemented successfully across 75 US communities, housing more than 75,000 people. The functional zero approach involves a coordinated process of matching the need for housing with supply. It ultimately involves developing real-time data on homelessness—in other words, knowing the details of every person sleeping rough and coordinating local resources to meet their needs. This requires a commitment from a broad range of stakeholders, ranging from the homelessness sector, housing, mental health, drug and alcohol, youth services, domestic violence, justice and corrections, and the aged and disability sectors.

 

At the 2016 Don Dunstan Foundation Homelessness Conference, Rosanne Haggerty of Community Solutions outlined that the scale and geography of street homelessness in Adelaide makes it a fundamentally solvable issue. South Australia also has a long history of innovation in programs to address homelessness, and Adelaide has been recognised as one of the most livable cities nationally and globally.

 

In response to the conference, the Don Dunstan Foundation coordinated the first phase of the Adelaide Zero Project to determine how the zero approach from the United States could be implemented in Adelaide. On 22 February this year, the Adelaide Zero Project's implementation plan was released and over 30 organisations committed to the 2020 target. Some of these organisations included the Hutt St Centre, Shelter SA and Life Without Barriers.

 

One important aspect of the Adelaide Zero Project's implementation plan involves running a Connections Week to engage with people sleeping rough in the city. For Adelaide, this will be in the week beginning 14 May. During this week, volunteers and workers across the sector will be meeting people who are sleeping rough in the city to learn their names, their health circumstances, personal needs and the level of housing support that is required.

 

After this information is collected, a data tool will be created where information can be viewed and updated in real time. This tool will be fundamental in understanding the movement of people within, into and out of the homelessness service system. It is a living database that will be constantly updated to allow for the coordination of services to meet the needs of individuals, helping organisations prioritise actions, housing needs and placements.

 

A public community briefing will be held on 17 May for those interested in the results of Connections Week and to hear about the next steps for the Adelaide Zero Project. The Adelaide Zero Project is an important step in developing long-term, sustainable solutions to homelessness. I hope this project fulfils its aim of achieving functional zero homelessness by the end of 2020.

 

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