Unique, state-first partnership supporting our vulnerable into housing

In another state-first, a former backpacker’s hostel in the heart of the CBD has been transformed so it can provide new, short-term accommodation for South Australians experiencing or at risk of homelessness with support from a well-known real estate agent.

The new, unique partnership between Harcourts Packham and the state’s new Southern homelessness alliance Toward Home will result in a revitalised and better way of supporting our most vulnerable.

“Terra Firma” offers 11 individual rooms and common areas, including a kitchen, laundry and outdoor space – and is now open.

It offers specialised support to both singles and couples aged 45 and over with a tenure of up to 12 weeks, with the aim of helping South Australians get back on track and into safe, stable and longer-term accommodation. Terra Firma also allows residents to have pets.

Harcourts Packham spearheaded their involvement in this initiative after contacting Toward Home about an idea to convert the former backpackers into accommodation to support South Australians at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

During their stay, clients will be supported by Toward Home, while Harcourts Packham will manage the Terra Firma property, as well as offer advice and assistance helping clients to secure private rental where appropriate.

Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink welcomed the new partnership.

“This state-first initiative between Harcourts Packham and the Toward Home alliance is exactly the kind of innovation we were hoping for as a result of our bold, new nation-first homelessness reforms,” said Minister Lensink.

“Not only do we hope this initiative will better support our vulnerable, it will support more South Australians into safe, stable and longer-term housing.

“Ultimately, we want better outcomes for our most vulnerable South Australians and this initiative will go a long way in supporting our collective goal.”

Harcourts Packham director James Packham said Terra Firma supported the organisation’s mission to respond to homelessness.

“Traditionally, short-term accommodation in this space has been provided exclusively by Government, non-for-profits, and church-based organisations,” said Mr Packham.

“Terra Firma is a leading example in South Australia where a private sector participant has become both a key partner and a provider.

“We’re aware of the vast numbers of people at present unable to secure rental accommodation, and those who cannot afford housing at all. Our goal is to demonstrate proof of concept with Terra Firma in order to scale and diversify the potential of this model towards ending homelessness.

“With our skillset and reputation, we can assist residents to transition to longer-term housing by providing them with references and utilising our investor database to garner interest in leasing property to residents.

“We look forward to working with Toward Home to improve the quality of life, stability, and dignity for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.”

Toward Home spokesperson Rohan Feegrade, who is lead agency Lutheran Care’s chief executive officer, said it was fantastic to partner with Harcourts Packham to support South Australians at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

“The Toward Home Alliance is committed to expanding all forms of housing, from short-term to long term, whilst ensuring quality of care and service provision to our clients,” said Mr Feegrade.

“Providing support early is key to ensuring people have what they require in order to best keep people housed and out of the homelessness cycle. This helps to reduce the heavy reliance on the system and the devastating health and wellbeing impacts associated with periods of homelessness.

“This partnership is an example of the private sector stepping up to do what they can to prevent and end homelessness and we warmly invite other organisations and investors to contact the Toward Home alliance or Harcourts Packham to discuss how they too can be part of our collective vision or preventing and ending homelessness.”

The Terra Firma beds form part of the 96 crisis beds available across Southern Adelaide.

It follows additional innovative accommodation and supports already open on Waymouth Street and at the Marshall Liberal Government’s new $1.7 million initiative in Brooklyn Park.

Total homelessness funding has increased to $72.4m in 2021-22, up from $65.5m in 2017-18.

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