On-going support needed to break cycle of homelessness

Without on-going support, many formerly homeless people living with mental illness consider returning to the streets, rather than tackling the social and administrative challenges of living in high-density social housing, a new report has found.

“Somewhere over the rainbow” – The opinions and experiences of people living with mental illness in getting housing, is the third in a series of reports by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre’s Homeless Persons’ Legal Service regarding mental illness and homelessness. It documents the real-life experiences of members of this vulnerable community.

Earlier reports in the series have examined the relationship between mental illness, homelessness, accessing stable housing and the criminal justice system.

This latest report is the result of consultations facilitated by members of PIAC’s consumer advisory group on homelessness, StreetCare, and thirty people with a history of mental illness who had recently experienced a period of homelessness. The project received financial support from StreetSmart, through its Community Small Grant Scheme.

‘We found that some people living with a mental illness were struggling to cope with the new set of pressures that comes with living in social housing. They reported needing more on-going support than is currently available to maintain their tenancy,’ said Lou Schetzer, Senior Policy Officer at the Homeless Persons’ Legal Service. 

‘Negotiating with government bureaucracies, problem neighbours, or other difficulties arising from high-density social housing could cause such severe anxiety and stress that many of the people we spoke to said they had considered returning to the streets,’ said Lou Schetzer.

‘You can take the person off the street, but you can’t take the street out of the person… It’s in your blood. It pulls you back there,’ said one participant.

‘Long-term casework support, community programs and counselling services are essential to assist this vulnerable group to avoid returning to homelessness,’ said Lou Schetzer.

The report, including detailed recommendations and case studies, is available at here

MEDIA CONTACT: PIAC Media and Communications Officer, Gemma Pearce: 0478 739 280 

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