The cost of homelessness and the net benefit of homelessness programs: findings from the Baseline Client Survey

Homelessness Social security Poverty Social issues Housing Australia
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This is the first of two Final Reports from the present AHURI Cost of Homelessness study. It outlined the methodological framework for the study, described the homelessness support environment and reported on the Baseline Client Survey, including a preliminary analysis of the cost-effectiveness of the programs examined and the extent to which it is possible to identify quasi-experimental comparison groups for the target treatment groups.

The study examined:

  • The extent to which outcomes for clients of specialist homelessness programs is changed by receiving support. Data to examine outcome changes is gathered via a longitudinal survey of clients of specialist homelessness services, administered when a period of support commences and again after 12 months.
  • The costs of non-homelessness services used by persons at risk of homelessness. This is estimated across the health, justice and income support domains, as well as an estimate of the cost of children being placed in care due to unstable accommodation circumstances, and the cost of public tenancy evictions for persons who are subsequently homeless.
  • The cost of providing specialist homelessness programs. This is examined both through a survey of agencies delivering specialist homelessness services and from government administrative data. The potential savings in non-homelessness services are netted off against the cost of providing homelessness support to determine the net cost to government of providing homelessness assistance.
  • Investigating the potential to use linked administrative homelessness, health, justice, income and welfare support data to quantify the costs of homelessness and the costs and benefits of homelessness program assistance.

Authored by Kaylene Zaretzky, Paul Flatau, Anne Clear, Elizabeth Conroy and Lucy Burns.

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