Submission in response to the National Housing and Homelessness Plan Issues Paper
This submission to the National Housing and Homelessness Plan Issues Paper has been prepared by The Foyer Foundation on behalf of FoyerInvest, a consortium of service providers, philanthropists, impact investors and young people working collaboratively to grow the reach and impact of Youth Foyers. Together we are working towards a future where young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness go on to live thriving futures. Our submission focuses specifically on responding to the needs of children and young people aged 16-24 who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
To unlock thriving futures, children and young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness need more than a roof over their heads. They need a safe and stable home: with meaningful connections, trusting relationships, and a way to build strong foundations in education, employment, and independent living skills.
Our current homelessness service system is skewed to short-term and crisis responses, with just 25% of young people seeking medium term-support having their needs met, and just 4% having their long-term needs met. While short-term services are critical for responding to the needs of young people in
crisis with urgent accommodation challenges, they are operating beyond their capacity. Further, they are not designed to transition those who are ready for independence beyond crisis accommodation towards a future of employment, stable housing and self-sufficiency. There is an unrealised opportunity for the Commonwealth Government to invest in medium-term housing with integrated employment, education and life skills supports to bridge this gap, effectively transitioning young people away from entrenched cycles of disadvantage and homelessness.
Youth Foyers are an evidence-based response that is an essential part of the solution to child and youth homelessness for 16-24 year-olds. Independent analysis found that:
● Over 80% of young people living in Youth Foyers in Australia exit into safe and stable housing
● 65% gain secure and decent employment
● Foyer residents are 60% less likely to be involved in the justice system.
Living in a Youth Foyer creates a positive ‘fork in the road’ in a young person’s life, giving them a launching off point towards a thriving future beyond our service systems. Youth Foyers are both a solution for early intervention with young people at risk, as well as a pathway out of homelessness.
There are currently 11 accredited Youth Foyers in Australia, with a further 9 due to be accredited by the end of 2023. The FoyerInvest Consortium has identified 14 new Youth Foyer projects in communities across Australia that are ready for investment and build within 2 years. A further 17+ sites are in the scoping phase and will be ready for development in 2-7 years.
Investment is needed to scale and sustain high-quality Youth Foyers as a key part of the service system needed to support young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness. New funding mechanisms, including social impact bonds and payment-by-outcomes structures, provide opportunities for more sustainable funding models that include bricks and mortar costs, as well as the support services required for Foyer residents to achieve independence on exit.
Investing in ongoing service operating costs is an essential requirement for success. Operating costs have also been identified by communities and organisations across Australia as one of the key barriers to scaling the Youth Foyer approach.
This submission recommends that the National Housing and Homelessness Plan should:
● Identify children and young people (16-24) as a priority cohort and direct investment specifically towards their unique housing and service support needs
● Invest in scaling Youth Foyers, an evidence-based solution to youth homelessness, from 20 to 50 Youth Foyers by 2030
● Unlock new and underused funding mechanisms, including social impact bonds and payment-by-outcomes contracting, to support better outcomes for young people and drive collaboration between service providers, governments and the private sector.