A solution to youth homelessness that pays for itself

23 04 20 Foyer Foundation Report

Every year for the past decade more than 44,000 young Australians have received support from specialist homelessness services.

For 3 in 5 young people this won’t be the first time they need crisis support as they struggle with the high cost of rent and the almost impossible task of skilling up or finding a job without safe, secure housing.

For The Foyer Foundation and its partners, a key part of their strategy is obtaining ongoing government support for the innovative Youth Foyer approach which delivers integrated accommodation, education and employment opportunities for 16 to 24 year olds.

Earlier this week The Foyer Foundation and Accenture released a new report, ‘Under One Roof’, which demonstrates the social and economic impact of Youth Foyers.

The social and economic analysis undertaken by Accenture found Youth Foyers significantly reduced the cost to state and federal governments of supporting young people experiencing homelessness by offering integrated education, employment and accommodation services.

– The lifetime cost to governments of supporting a young person who has accessed specialist homelessness services is estimated at $386,000.

– 48 per cent of this cost is incurred by the Australian Government and 52 per cent by state and territory governments. This is made up of

welfare costs net taxes (30 per cent)

housing (30 per cent)

health care costs (25 per cent)

justice costs (15 per cent)

However, the analysis found that the benefits of a young person supported through a Foyer are $172,417 in reduced lifetime costs to government compared to a young person with similar attributes in specialist homelessness services.

65 per cent of young people in a Foyer are in employment over their lifetime, compared to 51 per cent for specialist homelessness services. This reduces the need for welfare by $47,330 per person.

A young person exiting a Foyer contributes $8,420 more tax revenue than otherwise expected.

Young people who experience a Youth Foyer cost $27,235 less in health services due to improved overall health outcomes from stable housing.

Young people living in a Youth Foyer cost $34,516 less in justice resources because stable housing and education reduces the likelihood of involvement with the justice system by 60 per cent.

“Youth Foyers are not just a housing solution, they’re a way of ensuring young people who experience or are at risk of homelessness get the opportunity to realise their ambitions and become active, contributing members of society,” The Foyer Foundation CEO Liz Cameron-Smith said.

“Foyers increase education and employment, improve lifetime health outcomes and reduce contact with the justice system.”

The operating cost of an individual to be supported through a Youth Foyer is paid back in benefits to governments within four years of an individual exiting a Foyer.

While the costs are paid off in four years, the benefits which are created through the services offered at Foyer continue to accrue over an individual’s lifetime.

Within two years of living in a Youth Foyer, a young person has what they need to change their life trajectory.

80 per cent exit into stable housing

65 per cent gain secure and decent employment

“The current service landscape prioritises short-term and crisis housing. While this provides crucial support for people in crisis there is a need for more medium to long-term housing with integrated employment and education support,“ Cameron-Smith said.

“The reality is that despite specialist homelessness services operating beyond capacity, the needs of young people are still going unmet.

“Only 25 per cent of those who asked for medium term or transitional housing received it, and of those requesting long-term housing, it was a mere four per cent.

“Just as worryingly, young people experiencing homelessness aren’t getting the education and employment support they need to join the workforce and gain independence.

“In 2021, 20 per cent of all people in specialist homelessness services were in education or training before accessing support. After support, this increased by just one point – to 21 per cent.”

The Foyer Foundation has a bold plan to grow from 11 accredited Foyers in 2023 to 50 by 2030.

Ash Cook now works at Foyer Port Adelaide, after being a resident there. He says getting the key to his own apartment that day was life-changing.

“I’ve come through Foyer and in my time I was able to finish Year 12, I got multiple jobs, I was able to move to stable accommodation and I now own my own home. I have a really positive relationship and am married,” Cook said.

“It worked because it gave me hope that I could be a positive person in society and that I could be successful.”

50 Foyers will enable 20,000 additional young people to be housed and unlock thriving futures. This will create $2.9 billion in net lifetime benefits by 2040 for a federal investment of $9.6 million a year.

The Foyer Foundation is also working with the private sector and impact investors to provide $90 million over 10 years for infrastructure costs as part of its funding approach to seek a third of the investment required from each of the Commonwealth, state government and private sector.

Hand Heart Pocket CEO Sara Parrott said when there is a formula that works for young people and evidence of long-term positive outcomes for our community, it’s logical for philanthropy to come to the table to help scale that impact.

“We believe the best way to invest in the future of Queensland is through our young people, especially those facing hardship and adversity, so we work with strategic partners to help break the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage,” Ms Parrott said.

“Giving young people facing hardship, both a safe space to call home and the support to build the life they want for themselves, leads to safe and stable housing, improved health and wellbeing and a sense of belonging. Foyers enable young people to participate in the community and the economy as they transition into their adult lives.

“The Under One Roof report by Accenture highlights the importance of getting youth housing right. We feel an enormous sense of pride being part of the Foyer collaboration. We hope others will come on board and be part of the Foyer solution alongside respected youth service delivery organisations.”

Read the Under One Roof report by Accenture which was released this week: https://foyer.org.au/under-one-roof/


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