The MISHA project: from homelessness to sustained housing 2010-2013

25 Aug 2014

Michael’s Intensive Supported Housing Accord (MISHA) was a philanthropically funded initiative that provided long-term stable accommodation while supporting the men to build the lives they would like to live.

The MISHA Project used a Housing First approach, which is about providing homeless people with immediate access to long-term, sustainable accommodation, rather than an initial stop-gap stay in a homeless shelter.

Unlike other programs that seek to address issues such as alcohol and drug abuse or mental health problems prior to placing participants in housing, this approach provides secure long-term housing as the very first step. Once a person has the foundation of a home they then receive intensive support to address their issues and maintain their tenancy.

Based in Parramatta, MISHA followed on from The Michael Project – a three-year initiative that aimed to improve the social inclusion of homeless men through intensive case management and wrap-around support services.

Case workers played a crucial role helping clients sustain tenancies through:

  • Educating clients about their responsibilities as a tenant
  • Advocating on behalf of clients to address tenancy issues
  • Acting as an intermediary to facilitate communication between the client and social housing provider
  • Assisting clients to work through their substance use and other mental health problems.

The critical elements of the MISHA model that contributed to its effectiveness are:

  • Good quality and permanent housing
  • Dedicated staff
  • A focus on building self-reliance and independence
  • A committed relationship with the housing providers
  • Brokered or supported services to a full range of health and ancillary services
  • Opportunities to socialise.

It is hoped that the research commissioned to evaluate the MISHA service model will make a significant contribution to the evidence base and inform government policy in the housing and homelessness fields.

The research study was led by Paul Flatau from the University of Western Australia and included Kaylene Zaretzky of the University of Western Australia, Elizabeth Conroy, Marina Athanassios and Marlee Bower of the University of Western Sydney, and Lucy Burns and Tony Eardley of the University of New South Wales. 

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