FoyerInvest pre-budget submission: An opportunity for the Commonwealth to create pathways to thriving, independent futures for young people at risk of homelessness
Over 44,000 young people aged 15-24 present alone to Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) each year. This figure has not changed for over a decade, with too many young people getting trapped in intergenerational cycles of disadvantage that span intersecting policy domains – housing, education, employment, health, domestic violence, mental health and more. This Government has made clear its commitment to ensuring ‘no one is held back’ and ‘no one left behind’. To deliver on the promise of a better future, the Government should focus on those experiencing most disadvantage – Youth Foyers provide an effective, evidence-based and fiscally responsible way to do this in partnership with state governments and the private sector.
For young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, Youth Foyers offer a pathway out of cycles of disadvantage towards independent, thriving futures. A Youth Foyer provides a safe and stable home for approximately 40 young people aged 16-24, with integrated education and employment supports under one roof for up to two years.
With a track record of success in Australia and globally, 80% of young people exit a Youth Foyer into safe and stable housing. There are currently 11 accredited Youth Foyers in Australia, with a further 9 due to be accredited by the end of 2023. Community demand for Youth Foyers is on the rise, with over 33 additional communities seeking investment to build new Youth Foyers in response to the urgent needs of young people in their community.
The Federal Government has an opportunity to take this evidence-based solution for youth homelessness to scale through an impact investment model that leverages Federal funding with matched contributions from state governments and private investors. This proposal aligns with the Federal Government’s Housing Accord, driving collaboration on new financing mechanisms between the private sector, Federal and State governments. By incentivising superfunds, institutional investors and impact investors, the proposed approach would develop an additional 240 medium-term homes that will benefit over 2000 young people during the ten-year period.
We are seeking Federal Government commitment to invest in a tranche of six Youth Foyers across Australia to enable young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to transition to independent, thriving futures.
• The Federal Government has committed to ensuring that ‘no one is left behind’, yet 44,000 young people present to SHS services alone every year. Intervening at this critical point in a young person’s life through the Youth Foyer approach enables them to transition to independent, thriving futures – delivering on the
Government’s promise for the next generation.
• This is an investment ready proposal that aligns with the Government’s Housing Accord commitments to improve financing for new social and affordable housing projects. Crowding in investment from private investors and state governments means that every $1 of Federal funding will attract an additional $2
investment from State Governments or private investors. Over the ten-year period, the total quantum of capital is $282m. The Federal Government will contribute only $96m to unlock this total investment pool.
• The six new Youth Foyers will reach an extra 2,000 young people at risk during the ten-year period, delivering $345m in additional lifetime benefits when compared to SHS support – driven by improved outcomes in housing, employment, health and justice.
• This represents a return on investment of $6 for every additional $1 spent compared to SHS support, with a 4 year pay-back period on this additional investment.