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90 Homes for 90 Lives

The 90 Homes for 90 Lives initiative is a striking example of how a Collective Impact approach can address issues previously deemed too complex to be solved.

It began when a group of “unusual suspects” banded together to take a strategic and long-term approach to entrenched homelessness in the Woolloomooloo area. The challenges were significant:

With so many services and resources invested but affecting little change, the key question became “what would it take to end homelessness, instead of just managing it?” It was obvious that no while single organisation could tackle the issue alone, that simply adding to the services already offered wasn’t going to affect lasting change. Rather, a whole new approach was needed. And so a Collective Impact approach was adopted to guide this work.

A new way of working

While many service providers had been responding to homelessness in the area for decades, the benefits tended to be short-term in nature, with overall homelessness rates continuing to rise. In addition, many services offered were not fully utilised by “rough sleepers”, and were duplicated by other providers.

90 Homes for 90 Lives represented a coalition of seven core partners focused on outcomes for rough sleepers, with collaboration instead of duplication a key aim. For two years, key corporate, government, community and philanthropic stakeholders worked together to develop and implement a new model of change. Those sleeping rough were consulted on their needs (in many cases for the first time) and a proven ‘Housing First’ model that secured rapid housing placement was proposed. Supported by a strong cost-benefit analysis and backed by the key stakeholders, the initiative secured government support and funding for permanent housing for 70 rough sleepers, at the time the entirety of Woolloomooloo’s homeless population.

The Collective Impact

By January 2014, 83 rough sleepers had been housed, including many previously resistant to housing, with additional funding secured to help house new rough sleepers to the area.

The initiative also provided a targeted “street to home” outreach program, ensuring support and resources to make these transitions a success.

Services are now demonstrating a commitment to work together to achieve the best outcomes for those sleeping rough, an adaptive and flexible approach that’s already proving more effective in tackling long-term homelessness, and saving lives.

“After 10 years on the street and going in and out of hostels and crisis housing, I have finally got my own place to call home. Not a place that I’ll leave in two months, or sleep in a bed where hundreds have slept, but a permanent home with my own things – a place I can start from again.” John, 90 Homes for 90 Lives beneficiary

The (not-so) secret to success

The Collective Impact approach achieved strategic and meaningful collaboration between government, non-government, corporate, community and philanthropic organisations – the defining element of the initiative’s success. While each player brought their significant industry skills and expertise to the table, it was the neutral “backbone support” role, played by organisations like United Way Australia, that kept the project’s momentum and ensured the five conditions of a Collective Impact approach were met, enabling the collaboration to achieve far more than the sum of its parts.

90 Homes for 90 Lives is also a powerful example of how corporate partners can contribute their business skills and experience to play a meaningful role in affecting community change. In this case, the cost benefit analysis developed by UBS volunteers was critical to the initiative’s success, as were the business proposals and marketing expertise provided by the Freehills Foundation.

To find out more about our Collective Impact work and how your company can get involved, please contact Lyndsey McKee, Head of Partnerships, on (02) 9321 0300.

90 Homes for 90 Lives Coalition

Bridge Housing
City of Sydney
Colliers International
Freehills Foundation
United Way Australia


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