The funding and delivery of programs to reduce homelessness: the case study evidence

14 Feb 2017

This report forms part of an AHURI Inquiry into the funding and delivery of programs to reduce homelessness. It provides evidence from case studies of homelessness services into how services supporting those experiencing homelessness are funded, and how different forms and levels of funding impact on the delivery of homelessness assistance. This evidence is based on nine case studies focused on different service models, organisational forms and potential new ways of funding services for the homeless.

  • Sources of non-government funding outside of the Specialist Homelessness Services budget are unlikely to provide a significant contribution to reducing homelessness in the foreseeable future: the funds raised are relatively small; they are used to supplement/complement mainstream services; raising funds requires the allocation of resources, particular skills, intensive time and energy.
  • Philanthropic grants are used by homelessness agencies for new initiatives and innovation but are not available to recurrently fund service provision.
  • Fund raising from the community has preconditions such as strong brand recognition, location, and target groups that appeal to funders. Some homelessness agencies such as faith-based Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) or agencies working with particular target groups or providing services such as foodbanks or material aid have more opportunities than others.
  • There is some evidence of social enterprise development but usually for ancillary activities and services such as revenue raising in an associated area of expertise and, employment services for those who are experiencing homelessness. This sector would benefit from capital start-up funding from government.
  • Social impact bonds are a growing area, but for much wider application this will require a more sophisticated and rigorous approach to outcomes measurement.
  • Partnership arrangements are an important alternative where agencies do not have the funds or expertise to deliver an integrated suite of homelessness services.
  • The following policy implications emerged from the case studies:
    • early intervention and post-intervention strategies are necessary to reduce homelessness and thus reduce the upward pressure on the homelessness budget integrated cross-sectoral and cross-departmental funding packages could achieve greater efficiencies than current arrangements
    • co-funding of time-limited special projects and innovation by government with the philanthropic sector
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