This is Ruby – who is smiling because she finally has a roof over her head – a home she can call her own. Ruby, 44, and her brother Tolofie, 48, have been homeless for a long time, couch surfing and sleeping rough.
But not anymore. That’s because Ruby and her brother have become the first beneficiaries of Hume Community Housing’s newest initiative, Together Home, which aims to house homeless people across the South West Sydney region.
The initiative, which is run in partnership with the State Government, works by securing properties from the private rental market for people who have been sleeping rough.
By partnering with community housing providers, Together Home also provides access to the services such people need to maintain their tenancy, improve their health and wellbeing, and move towards community participation and inclusion.
Nicola Lemon, the CEO of Hume Community Housing, says the program’s housing first approach is based on the belief that a stable home is the foundation for success.
“We work with each person to understand what type of housing will best meet their needs,’’ says Ms Lemon.
“Then, with support partners we offer a range of services to wrap-around each person to give them opportunities to prosper.
“Having a stable home makes you part of a community and provides you with a sense of belonging. For someone who has experienced homelessness, this combination of home and services can be life-changing,” she said.
Hume offers a range of housing options from temporary accommodation, private rental assistance, plus social and affordable housing.
“We support a wide range of customers in applying for a housing option that matches their needs, including seniors, youth and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing options,” says Ms Lemon.
Together Home builds on the NSW Government’s response to Covid-19, which included increasing the supply and flexibility of temporary accommodation and the expansion of assertive outreach across the state.
“The Together Home initiative is particularly important, because the ongoing pandemic has made those without a home the most vulnerable in our society,” Ms Lemon said.
Since the middle of August Ruby and her brother could finally sleep safely in their own beds, in their fully furnished unit in South West Sydney.
Together Home meanwhile is looking to help other local homeless people get a roof over their heads.
“The NSW Government’s commitment to halving the number of people who are rough sleeping by 2025 must be applauded,” says Ms Lemon.
“Unfortunately, demand for housing still outweighs the supply, so we are urgently calling for governments at all levels to invest further in social housing.”