Sacred Heart Mission’s Journey to Social Inclusion program (J2SI) is an innovative Housing First approach that provides intensive wrap around support to people facing long-term homelessness.
Employing a Social Impact Investment (SII) funding structure, it is making a major difference to the lives of 180 Victorians experiencing long-term homelessness, with 90 per cent of people now in stable housing. J2SI SII is funded as a Partnership Addressing Disadvantage (PAD), involving Sacred Heart Mission, the Victorian Government, philanthropy and an investor. Under the SII approach, payments are made if the J2SI program achieves specific outcomes.
In 2022, for people who started the J2SI program two, three or four years ago, 90 per cent have maintained stable housing, and use of hospital bed days has decreased by 60 per cent compared to the year before people commenced support with J2SI. Sacred Heart Mission is proud of these results confirming that J2SI has continued to provide strong housing outcomes for people experiencing homelessness.
As a comparison, in December 2021, Sacred Heart Mission reported that 90 per cent of J2SI clients had been in stable housing; and their use of ‘hospital bed days’ had decreased by 56 per cent compared to the year before they commenced the program.
The first cohort of J2SI SII clients completed the program in July 2021, meaning they no longer receive support from Sacred Heart Mission. Their results 12 months on (year 4) are particularly pleasing. Hospital bed days for this cohort have been approximately halved since before they commenced with J2SI and 92 per cent are in stable housing. This demonstrates that participants have made sustained change in their lives, with improved health and wellbeing and life skill outcomes that support them to maintain their housing, as a result of their participation in J2SI.
Sacred Heart Mission CEO Cathy Humphrey is one of the key designers of J2SI program back when it was piloted in 2009, and as her tenure as CEO concludes after over 11 years as CEO and 20 years at Sacred Heart Mission, it is the perfect time to reflect on what has been accomplished under Cathy’s leadership.
“Cathy was fundamental in the development and implementation of J2SI, from the beginning of the pilot and two randomised control trials right through to the current phases of J2SI funded through SII and Payment by Results (PBR) contracts,” says Chris Stolz, Chair of Sacred Heart Mission’s Board. “It is because of Cathy’s vision and drive to end homelessness in Victoria that J2SI is so successful and has become part of the fabric of Sacred Heart Mission’s approach and service offering.”
In 2022, Sacred Heart Mission received six outcome payments; five at the ‘outperform’ level and one ‘above target’ under the PAD. This brings the total outcome payments from 2020-2022 to eleven at the ‘outperform’ level and one ‘above target’.
J2SI is different because it 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.
In addition to exiting homelessness, people are supported to improve their health and well-being, and to build the skills, independence and social connections required to experience and maintain a better quality of life.
This includes supports to get and stay in housing, improving mental health and wellbeing, resolving drug and alcohol issues, building skills, increasing connection with community and contributing to society through economic and social inclusion.
In 2021, Sacred Heart Mission was successful in obtaining additional funding through the Department of Treasury and Finance’s Early Intervention Investment Framework (EIIF) for additional investment into J2SI for a further 120 people for three years, all of whom have commenced the program. We look forward to reporting on these results in 2023.
Outgoing CEO Cathy Humphrey says, “I am proud to leave the legacy of J2SI as I say goodbye to Sacred Heart Mission. I look forward to seeing the J2SI approach supporting more people to end their homelessness for good across Australia.”
“We know that by providing safe and stable housing and wrap-around support from a dedicated case manager, people experiencing long-term homelessness can achieve positive improvements in relation to their physical and mental health, substance use and employment. J2SI improves lives and saves money; it therefore makes sense to scale evidenced-based programs that are achieving exceptional results.”
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