MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: It might seem obvious, but providing homeless
men with stable accommodation appears to be a better long term option than
immediately treating the problems that may have derailed their lives
Mission Australia has released a study of a two-year old program with a key point of difference to traditional homelessness programs.
This one has been delivering housing to dozens of homeless men in western Sydney before trying to address issues such as mental health or addiction.
And it's having a higher than usual success rate.
Lexi Metherell reports.
LEXI METHERELL: Fourteen years ago Gordon Broomham had an accountancy practice in the Blue Mountains, a girlfriend and stepdaughter.
But then his life changed dramatically.
GORDON BROOMHAM: I walked out of my practice and also my relationship, I went to live in a container for two years.
LEXI METHERELL: The 70 year old has since been diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression.
While living in the shipping container he was hospitalised and then he moved to a hostel.
He says it wasn't ideal.
GORDON BROOMHAM: I lived in the hostel there for nearly seven years. You become institutionalised unfortunately.
LEXI METHERELL: For the past two years though, he's been living in western Sydney, next door to Graeme Buttriss who suffered years of unstable housing.
GRAEME BUTTRISS: You just can't get your headspace right, everything's just to the extremes, you don't know whether you're going to live on the ground, or live under a tree.
LEXI METHERELL: Both men are taking part in a new housing program run by Mission Australia.
It takes what's known as a "housing first" approach.
Catherine Yeomans is organisation's chief executive.
CATHERINE YEOMANS: The usual approach is to work with people, such as the people who participated in our project, who may have a number of issues that they're dealing with in their lives, but as you can imagine it's extraordinarily difficult work on some of those issues when you don't have certainty about where you are going to be living. Really, we're putting housing first, getting people into long-term accommodation, supporting them to maintain their tenancy.
LEXI METHERELL: A study of the program by Mission Australia has found 89 per cent of the 74 men it housed at the start of the project two years ago are still in the same homes now.
CATHERINE YEOMANS: It is not just about handing the key over and sort of putting it in the door and they've got that accommodation. They need to be assisted to help maintain that tenancy.
LEXI METHERELL: The program is called Michael's Intensive Supported Housing Accord, or MISHA.
It's funded by an anonymous private donor.
But the study found that it's saving the Government money by reducing participants' time in hospitals, jails and mental health or drug and alcohol facilities.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Lexi Metherell reporting.