The financing, delivery and effectiveness of programs to reduce homelessness

Authored by:

Paul Flatau, Lisa Wood, Kaylene Zaretzky

Status: Completed October 2016

University Partners:

The financing, delivery and effectiveness of programs to reduce homelessness: Inquiry into funding and delivery of programs to reduce homelessness is a study carried out by the Centre for Social Impact at The University of Western Australia for the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI). This report is one of three reports to be released as part of an AHURI Inquiry into the funding and delivery of programs to reduce homelessness.

The study was funded by AHURI and is the first of its kind in Australia and uses data from the Australian Homelessness Funding and Delivery Survey. The aim of the study was to assess the implications of the current funding environment for meeting growing demands for services to support the homeless in Australia.

The financing, delivery and effectiveness of programs to reduce homelessness: Inquiry into funding and delivery of programs to reduce homelessness found:

  • the predominant source of funding of homelessness services in Australia is government funding. Recurrent government funding is estimated to account for 84.6 per cent of funding received by Specialist Homelessness Services (SHSs).
  • the main non-government sources of funding used by homelessness services include donations, sponsorships and philanthropy and internally-generated revenue such as rent from supported accommodation services.
  • funding from government sources and from corporate grants and sponsorships has lower levels of flexibility and discretion than other sources of funding. The greatest level of flexibility and discretion in funding was found to be community donations, fundraising and large private donations.
  • Current levels of funding are estimated to be below levels required to meet client demand on homelessness services. Outcomes perceived as most constrained by the current level and mix of funding are client employment and access to permanent housing.
  • There is a growing interest in diversifying sources of funding among homelessness services. This extends to new forms of funding such as social enterprise revenue, crowd funding and social benefit bonds. However, these new forms of funding have yet to be realised.
  • In considering actions to diversify funding, homelessness services pointed to concerns relating to increased reporting, excessive outcome measurement, a drain on resources, possible change in focus, and conflict of objectives associated with finding new sources of funding.
  • Key areas for policy development recommended in the study include greater certainty around future government funding of homelessness services; supportive measures to increase the level of non-government funding including an expansion of philanthropic giving, sponsorship and donations, social enterprise funding options, crowd funding, the development of impact investment opportunities; and addressing the significant concerns reported by services with respect to the costs of funding diversification.

Read the media release here.

Read the reports

Executive Summary (published on the AHURI website)

Full report (published on the AHURI website)


Recommended citation

Flatau, P., Zaretzky, K., Wood, L. and Miscenko, D. (2016) The financing, delivery and effectiveness of programs to reduce homelessness, AHURI Final Report 270, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, Melbourne, URL, doi:10.18408/ahuri-8209101.

Related reports and documents

Inquiry into funding and delivery of programs to reduce homelessness

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