The cost of homelessness and the net benefit of homelessness programs: a national study

Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) aim to assist people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, to access and maintain stable and secure accommodation. Integral in achieving these outcomes, they aim also to assist clients to become self- reliant and independent, improve health and well-being outcomes and to re-establish positive social connections and employment participation. Indicators of the extent to which these objectives are achieved include housing status, income and workforce status. Since commencement of the National Affordable Housing Agreement and the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness increased emphasis has been placed on establishing the extent to which these objectives are met. This study examines this issue; and the cost and associated benefits to government of providing these services. It reports on outcomes for clients of specified homelessness prevention and assistance programs who accessed support between October 2010 and May 2011. Programs examined in the study operate in inner city and metropolitan and major regional centres in New South Wales (NSW), Victoria (Vic), South Australia (SA) and Western Australia (WA) over the period 2010 to 2012. They include: