Why we need programs like GreenLight

20 February 2020
GreenLight team

When people experiencing homelessness are finally offered a house, they need one-on-one, tailored support to help them adjust to their new home and stay in that home. Our collaborative GreenLight Supportive Housing Program, launched last February, does exactly that.

In partnership with the Salvation Army and VincentCare, the program has supported people to move into their long-term housing and make their house a home.

GreenLight Program and Partnership Manager, Annie Lynch, says through a multidisciplinary team of case managers, mental health clinicians and peer support settlement workers, the teams work with people where they are at and together work through any factors potentially affecting their housing.

“Based on our research and experience, we know when people transition from homelessness to housing, it’s life changing and people need significant support,” Annie says.

“That’s why GreenLight uses ‘housing first’ and ‘sustaining tenancies’ principles, which means we work with people to stay housed by helping them to firstly identify and then work on developing any skills they may need to live comfortably in their home.

“This approach plugs a service gap in the homelessness service system because it provides flexible support for up to two years, tailored for each person at the point of housing allocation, which is the stage when funding for homelessness responses ends.

“This means depending on people’s circumstances, we, over time, increase or decrease support to ensure we keep people from falling back into a cycle of homelessness.”

This practical support includes helping people purchase furniture and whitegoods, developing personal skills such as cooking or catching public transport, and increasing a connection to their local communities. This support aims to assist people exit homelessness permanently.

This collaborative partnership includes three place-based sub-teams, each with a Team Leader, Supportive Housing Workers and two program-wide Mental Health Clinicians. The team structure is complemented by three Peer Settlement Support Workers, who work alongside clients as they connect with their new community.

GreenLight Peer Settlement Support Worker *Julie says peer workers offer invaluable support to clients because they share a lived-experience of homelessness.

“We can prove to people it is possible to exit homelessness,” Julie says. “We support each other to heal, recover and hold onto hope; we are resilient and strong and our stories are important to challenge the social narrative of homelessness.”

Bringing together decades of experience in the field, GreenLight is providing assertive outreach and supportive housing services to 684 people across the inner Melbourne area over a two-year period.

Funded via a $4.5 million investment from the Victorian Government, GreenLight works with rough sleeper initiatives, specialist homelessness services, and key housing providers in the cities of Melbourne, Yarra, and Port Phillip to create a streamlined pathway to provide support for clients once they have a long-term housing offer.