The Foyer Foundation calls on the Government to invest in housing solutions for young people that work
14 September 2023
A quarter (22%) of all people experiencing homelessness in NSW are children and young people. In fact, 3 in 5 young people who request Specialist Homelessness Support (SHS) are repeat users. Which is why a National consortium of leading non-for-profit organisations, philanthropists and investors have formed FoyerInvest, in a bid to offer a place-based solution to youth homelessness that enables lifelong independence.
Youth Foyers provides a safe and stable home for around 40 young people, aged 16-24, with integrated education and employment supports under one roof for up to 2 years. Within 2 years of living in a Youth Foyer, a young person has what they need to change their life trajectory. More than 80% of young people exit into safe and stable housing, 65% gain secure and decent employment, and they are 60% less likely to be involved in the justice system.
Supported by the Foyer Foundation, FoyerInvest is calling on the State Government to commit in the upcoming NSW Budget to invest in at least 4 new Youth Foyers in NSW to enable young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to transition to independent, thriving futures.
“There are currently 11 accredited Youth Foyers in Australia, with a further 9 due to be accredited by the end of 2023. In NSW there are 60 Foyer units provided in the Illawarra by Southern Youth and Family Services, and 53 units provided through Uniting’s Foyer Central in Sydney. That is less than 120 units for all of NSW and falls far short of Shelter NSW’s conservatively estimated demand for 822 units in NSW,” the Foyer Foundation CEO, Liz Cameron-Smith said.
“FoyerInvest has identified a strong pipeline of Youth Foyer projects ready for development in communities across NSW. At least four of these sites, in the Central Coast, Penrith, Orange and Dubbo, are ready for development within 2 years and are seeking investment.
“To establish 4 new Youth Foyers we are seeking a NSW Government commitment of: $45m in capital, and $4.8m in total operating costs for the first 3 years (2023-26); and a commitment of $6.4 per annum in ongoing operating costs (2026-27 and ongoing). Significant investment in land, planning and community engagement has already been made by organisations leading NSW Youth Foyer projects.”
For a young person like Lakkita, 17, who currently resides at Platform Youth Services accommodation in Penrith, having a Youth Foyer in her area would mean she doesn’t need to worry about where she will be living next, as it will offer her more stable accommodation, a chance to live independently, and support from Youth Development Coaches.
“At the moment I live in a share home with Platform Youth Services and have been there for 1 and a half years. I think having a Foyer in Penrith would be a huge benefit for young people in the area as it will help to ease the anxiety young people who don’t have a home feel, as it will be a stable accommodation. It will allow young people to be able to live independently and get on with planning for their future instead of worrying about where they are going to live next,” Lakkita said.
The Youth Foyer approach is effective because it goes beyond a crisis response, providing a medium-term housing solution with integrated services. Grounded in Advantaged Thinking, Youth Foyers focus on a young person’s strengths and goals and provide the supports they need to transition to independence.
Upon entry to Foyers, young people sign up to “The Deal”, in which they agree to participate fully in the Foyer service offers of education, work, social activities and developing life skills and independence. It recognises young people’s ability to direct their own lives and the role of Foyers in enabling them.
An example of this is Foyer Central resident Alex, 19, who had been in the Out-of-Home-Care system since he was 10 years old. “I have been living at Foyer Central for 10 months and it has given me opportunities I would not have gotten living anywhere else. It really helped me with regards to work and getting a full-time job with Uniting as an IT Administration officer.”
“I am grateful for the opportunity to work for Uniting and even for living in the city at Foyer Central. Having my job also gives me a stable income and allows me to be more independent and be able to pay my rent.”
The total cost to NSW Government can be reduced by leveraging state investment with private capital and Federal co-contributions through impact investing and payment-by-outcomes options currently being developed. FoyerInvest seeks to shape these options in collaboration with the NSW Government.