Access to affordable housing is in crisis. Safe, appropriate and stable housing is a basic human right and one of the key foundations that are central to recovery from experiences of mental health issues. For those on low incomes or with complex needs there are few housing options, and sometimes none at all. Once housed, people with mental illness experience difficulty in accessing either mental health care or residential support that is flexible and responsive.
The fragmentation between Housing, Homelessness and Mental Health Services across government and community sectors create obstacles and hinder services from working in a truly integrated way. Constant reforms to health and housing systems have broken existing partnerships, generated new gaps and destabilised an already unsettled workforce.
The increasing complexity and vulnerabilities of people seeking housing, including substance misuse, domestic violence, rough sleeping, trauma, disability, poverty and hoarding and squalor each act as barriers to service and require solutions that are near-impossible to achieve by a single service. Decreasing continuity of services and relationships also add obstacles to an already complex and confusing housing system. Demographic changes in the homeless population, such as the increasing numbers of Aboriginal people and women, require greater attention.
The good news is that a range of effective service models and integrated approaches have emerged, locally and internationally.