Housing with support is helping tenants to transform their lives
- 21 April 2021 2:51PM
A new social housing apartment building in the heart of the Ipswich CBD, is helping to transform people’s lives with onsite support provided by St Vincent de Paul Society. The four storey, 20-unit building is one of twenty social housing demonstration projects delivered by the department to showcase how well-designed housing can enhance both the community and the lives of the people living in them.
This demonstration project is piloting an integrated housing with support model with St Vincent de Paul Society, a specialist homelessness service.
“The building and the support model are so different to what I have experienced in the past. We are meeting the individual needs of each tenant within a homely environment. Providing onsite support has been so beneficial– tenants are coming to see us for help, and they have been making some amazing changes in their lives,” said Leanne, Crisis Support Worker with St Vincent de Paul Society.
“This onsite support helps build tenants’ skills so that they can sustain their tenancies into the future. We’re slowly building their capacity from the basics of cleaning, personal hygiene and managing their responsibilities as a tenant, as well as working with them to address the challenges they have faced on their housing journey,” said Leanne.
Tenants come from a range of different backgrounds and experiences and the support provided both on and offsite is important in helping them to transition from homelessness or crisis accommodation into more permanent housing. The complex also includes a ground floor common room, office space, bathroom and kitchenette facilities for the onsite support and is centrally located in Ipswich, close to the hospital, medical and shopping facilities.
The tenants will come down to see us on the ground floor and will have conversations with us if they are struggling. We’ve engaged with them from the very beginning so that they feel comfortable talking to us and we can knock on their door and see how they are going too.” said Leanne.
“Many of the tenants also struggle to access basic health services so we spend time making sure a trip to the GP or a hospital isn’t too stressful for them” said Karen, Programs Manager with St Vincent de Paul Society.
“The less time spent waiting in an emergency department or doctors waiting room is good for everyone, a small helping hand takes the pressure both off the patient as well as our frontline colleagues”.
As well as maintaining their home and tenancy, Leanne and Karen are keen for tenants to feel a part of the broader community whilst fostering connections within the building.
“We’re going to put on barbecues on Saturdays so that the tenants can have opportunities to chat to each other and get to know their immediate neighbours and have some fun,” Leanne said.
“We also want the tenants to feel that they are a part of the Ipswich community and we will encourage them to look for opportunities to develop their own network of support.”
The new unit complex consists of 5 x two bedroom and 15 x one-bedroom units of Gold and Platinum standard, in line with the Livable Housing Design Guidelines.
The tenancy and property management is managed by the Ipswich Housing Service Centre and Leanne says that the partnership between the Housing Service Centre and St Vincent de Paul Society is working well.
“The clear separation of building, property and case management is really important. Everyone at the Housing Service Centre has been great because we are sharing information, working to resolve any issues, while collectively meeting the individual housing and support needs of each tenant,” she said.
With some tenants having experienced domestic and family violence, Leanne says that the design of the building makes tenants feel safe.
“Having a secure building with the extra door at the front of their unit puts them at ease. We’ve got a gate at the front of the property and we will be getting a security camera installed in the foyer soon,” she said.
As well as feeling safe, tenants feel proud to call this demonstration project their home.
“If you’ve got a nice home and some nice furniture, you feel proud. The tenants are wanting to add furniture to their unit and make it feel even more like their home,” Leanne said.
“We all want this building to look great and one of the tenants, Joel is helping by cleaning up out the front to keep it looking neat and tidy.”
Leanne says that the design of the building adds to the neighbourhood.
“The building looks nice and it fits in perfectly with the Ipswich streetscape. These are lovely units; I’d be happy to live here myself,” she said.
Leanne says that the tenants have made good progress with the support provided so far.
“These tenants have faced some big challenges in life, and they’ve found the strength to keep going. They’ve blown me away, they are such an amazing bunch of people and they’ve already come so far in a short space of time,” said Leanne.