University of Tasmania

File(s) not publicly available

The funding and delivery of programs to reduce homelessness: the case study evidence

posted on 2023-05-25, 19:48 authored by MacKenzie, D, McNelis, S, Flatau, P, Valentine, K, Ami SeivwrightAmi Seivwright
Key findings This report is one of three reports which form part of an AHURI Inquiry into the funding and delivery of programs to reduce homelessness. It provides evidence from case studies of homelessness services into how services supporting those experiencing homelessness are funded, and how different forms of funding and the level of funding affects the delivery of homelessness assistance. These case studies allowed for more in-depth examination of some funding issues. The findings of the nine case studies are consistent with those of Flatau, Wood et al. (2016) that the main form of funding for homelessness services comes from the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness, together with funding from a range of other mainstream Commonwealth and State funds. This is supplemented by non-government income from rents where an agency owns or manages its own housing stock, as well as other sources such as philanthropy, corporate sponsorship and donations, public donations, bequests, fundraising activities, etc. These additional sources of funds are usually only a small proportion of income for agencies, with the exception of larger welfare organisations such as The Salvation Army, Mission Australia and St. Vincent's Hospital. The overall funding picture presented in the case studies is one of complexity and diversity. Diverse funding was found in North East Support and Action for Youth (NESAY), a small regional youth agency, as well as large agencies such as Mission Australia and Launch Housing. Having a diversity of program options has benefits for clients but carries a greater administrative and accountability loading due to different program funding targeted to different groups of clients, designed for different purposes, requiring different funding agreements, different reporting requirements and which begin and end at different times. The case studies provided a range of examples of philanthropic grants used by agencies to attempt something new or to pilot an innovation. Wintringham, providing supportive housing and aged care services for highly disadvantaged persons and people experiencing homelessness, has received a series of significant philanthropic grants or donations on a one-off basis to fund the acquisition and building of residential aged care facilities. Other organisations, such as Mission Australia and St Vincent's Hospital, also obtain significant tranches of philanthropic funding but informants indicated that success in this area requires additional resources and the appropriate skills to develop relationships and opportunities. Corporate donations are obtained by agencies, small and large. Corporate donations tend to involve either in-kind contributions by staff or cash donations from the company and/or staff over a period of time. From experience, the potential for significant private funding of Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) was thought to be fairly limited. Social impact bonds are a relatively new business-like way of attracting private investment and there is keen interest in them as a promising model for mobilising private sector funds around a business proposition to ameliorate a social problem. It is still early days in terms of assessing what the scope and limitations of this approach will be in the longer term. There are questions as to what social issues this kind of funding might be most viable for. The more complex the social issue, the more difficult is it to measure outcomes. In the cases studied, agencies were involved in partnerships on the ground with other agencies and services. The benefits of partnerships include the provision of integrated services that meet a range of client needs, and systemic approaches to addressing homelessness. The agencies intervene at different points of the spectrum of responses, from early intervention to crisis support. However, they all indicated the importance of multi-sector collaboration and partnerships. Funding concerns are often the driving force behind service expansion and diversification. However, in the cases studied, the agencies had a strong commitment to social justice and fundraising was focused on initiatives that served to achieve their mission or improve the services they could provide to clients, rather than chasing funding opportunistically. Agencies in the case studies expressed a drive to find alternative sources of funding to government funding, although multiple sources of funding generally required multiple accountabilities. While this did not constrain service delivery for some agencies because they had a demonstrated capacity in managing policy and funding changes, other agencies reported greater difficulty. In discussions about impact investing and performance-based payment (payment by results), which depend on robust outcomes measure and data, agency representatives expressed strong views that contracts and payments should be based on performance and that outcomes should be more precise and holistic than self-reported activity data. Some of the challenges with outcomes measurement included: • Comparing heterogeneous groups of people with diverse support needs and goals is difficult because devising a common set of outcome indicators is difficult-even sophisticated measures of clinical effectiveness or met need, such as the Health of the Nation Outcome Scale (HONOS) and the Camberwell Assessment of Need Short Appraisal Schedule (CANSAS), have known limitations as outcome measures.


Publication title

AHURI Final Report No. 274

Commissioning body

Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited




Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited

Place of publication

Melbourne, Australia

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Homelessness and housing services; Social class and inequalities

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania


    Ref. manager