The Wollongong Homeless Hub estimates that on any given night there are about 1500 people homeless in the Illawarra.
A new program, spanning from Helensburgh to Nowra, will aim to reduce homelessness via early intervention.
The Glider Project is a targeted early intervention program, aimed at empowering and educating vulnerable people whose tenancies are at risk on ways to preserve their tenancies in the public and private housing sector.
“It’s time we reduced homelessness by stopping people becoming homeless,” Mandy Booker, manager of Wollongong Emergency Family Housing and Wollongong Homeless Hub said of the preventative approach.
On Friday, Wollongong Emergency Family Housing officially launched the new project in collaboration with real estate agents, government and non-government housing providers.
The participants will receive outreach support which will link them with specialised services within the community.
Ms Booker said the project aimed to address tenancies at risk and identify how improved support can help families and individuals to maintain and sustain successful tenancies.
Ms Booker said this will be achieved by early identification of support needs and working collaboratively with government and non-government agencies, including real estate agents to provide a wrap-around service model.
The project will utilise a client-focused case management model to tailor support to individual clients.
Working collaboratively with the client, the case manager will help to identify the issues that are negatively impacting the client and formulate a plan to address them.
It also aims to help managing agents and housing providers save time and costs associated with a failing tenancy and the eviction process.
Ms Booker said referrals to the program could come from landlords, real estates and local community housing providers.
“We’re confident that we know it works; we have done a case study and it was extremely successful,” she said.
“The aim is really early intervention, and that’s where we needed the real estates to particularly buy into the process of referring people through, with consent, to save tenancies that may be at risk.
“It could be property damage, rent arrears… If they’ve gone and done a property inspection and they deem the person is at risk of losing that property, that person then becomes eligible to go straight into the program.”
Organisers estimate they will take on at least 15 cases a month during the six-month pilot period.
“It has a long-term option once funding is approved with the data (from the pilot),” Ms Booker said.
“The model has been set up in a way that once we can show some research behind the end data, then it actually can be replicated anywhere.
“This could be something that could be potentially, long-term, nationwide.”