Housing-first program delivers strong housing and health outcomes

20 December 2023
J2SI team standing in front of wall

89 per cent of people who participated in Sacred Heart Mission’s Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI) program delivered from 2018 to 2023 are in stable housing three or four years after starting with the program.

J2SI is funded as a Partnership Addressing Disadvantage (PAD), involving Sacred Heart Mission, the Victorian Government, philanthropy and an investor. Under the PAD structure, payments are made if the J2SI program achieves specific outcomes.

Housing alone does not end homelessness. The J2SI outcomes prove it takes ongoing, intensive support to ensure people can sustain their homes and stay out of homelessness for good.

J2SI takes a relationship-based approach, provides long-term support, and works from the premise that if people can sustain their housing, this provides a solid foundation to improving other areas in their lives. It features three years of intensive support that wraps services around the person and places their needs at the centre of service delivery.

J2SI payments have been measured since 2020. Two, three and four years after starting with the J2SI program, 90% of participants have maintained stable housing, and their use of hospital bed days has decreased by 58% compared to the year before commencing support with J2SI. These results confirm that J2SI continues to provide strong housing and health outcomes for people experiencing homelessness.

In 2023, Sacred Heart Mission received four outcome payments; three at the ‘outperform’ level and one ‘above target’ under the PAD. This brings the total outcome payments from 2020 to 2023 to fourteen at the ‘outperform’ level and two ‘above target’. The results have been consistent since 2020 and reflect the reductions in use of the service system have been greater than expected.

“It turned my life around” J2SI participant Terri*

For Terri, who was referred to the program in 2018, J2SI was a “game changer”.

“For someone who lives in constant crisis – always in fight or flight mode – knowing I had three years’ support meant that I allowed myself time to be calm, to be still and learn to trust,” Terri says. “I started to believe I could get well and change my life. I didn’t have to keep thinking about surviving.”

“My first year was just getting calm. Second year was the hardest and most intense work but by then I had a lot of trust with my case manager. I engaged with a trauma therapist, and I was in and out of detox and rehab. The third year was reconnecting with my family and friends, getting to know my local community and removing myself from users and sellers.”

“People like myself cost the government a lot of money. We are in and out of crisis services, needle exchange, jail. People living on the streets cause chaos. Youth refuges, rooming houses, psychiatric wards, I’ve done it all. We become really good at accessing services.”

“Investing three years may seem like a lot but it’s nothing to turn around a life. It’s a great investment for me to return to the community, to reconnect with my family. It’s better for me, my family and the community.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Housing, Harriet Shing

“Programs like the Journey to Social Inclusion are testament to the importance of a holistic, wraparound approach in providing a pathway out of homelessness. Everyone deserves the safety, security and dignity of a place to call home, and our Government is committed to delivering effective, long-term solutions for Victorians in need.”

Quote attributable to Sacred Heart Mission CEO, Hang Vo

“We developed Journey to Social Inclusion 15 years ago with the goal of solving chronic homelessness. Today, we have the solution. The latest outcomes prove once more how successful the program is in breaking the cycle of homelessness. Our approach, combined with ongoing support from government, enables people to access and sustain safe and secure housing and rebuild their lives.”

*Terri’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

Media Contact:

Sonja Schlusche
Acting Manager, Communication & Advocacy
047 447 0337