The financing, delivery and effectiveness of programs to reduce homelessness

31 Oct 2016

This research examined the funding sources of homeless services through administering a survey to Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) and other (non-specialist) services which deliver homelessness services (non-SHS). While the survey highlighted that funding is predominantly from government sources, there is growing interest in the diversification of funding sources to meet service demand, enable service innovation and attain agency sustainability. Flexibility and discretion of funding utilisation is favoured by agencies to meet service objectives.

Summary of key findings:

  • Of the 398 Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) (response rate 35.5%) that completed the survey – 298 of these provided organisational funding information (298 SHS represent approximately 20% of the services in the AIHW data collection) – while 216 provided funding dollar amounts.
  • Also a small sample of 21 non-SHS provided funding information (with 17 providing funding dollar amounts).  As this sample is likely to be unrepresentative, any findings in relation to these providers should be treated with caution and not directly compared to the SHS findings.
  • Services profile – of the SHS and non-SHS respondent services (n=319) 17.7% of respondent services were homelessness specific agencies with 70.7% providing a mix of homelessness and non-homelessness services. Annual revenue of these services comprised: 21.9% less than $1m, 30.2% $1m–$5m and 47.9% greater than $5m.
  • Funding profile (n=216 SHS that provided funding dollar amounts) – not surprisingly, 84.6% of funding received by SHS comes from government (49.5% via NAHA or NPAH). A further 5.2% government and 2.7% non-government funding is allocated by the parent agency. Only 3.6% of funding came from donations, philanthropy and sponsorships.
  • Rent contributed to 92% of internally generated revenue. However this makes up only 2.4% of the total (internal plus external) funding source.
  • For non-SHS (n=17) 60.6% of total funding came from government and 21.3% from donations/sponsorship/philanthropy. 75.6% of internally generated revenue came from social enterprise however this was only 0.7% of total funding.
  • No SHS or non-SHS reported funding via social impact investors or social impact bonds.
  • The level of unmet demand in the SHS sector suggests that resources are not adequate to meet demand. In 2013–14 for every 100 clients there were 60 unassisted requests and in 2014–15 there were 47 unassisted requests.
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