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Council gives green light to 'zero homelessness' project

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Adelaide City councillors have unanimously agreed to spend just under $150,000 towards a US-modelled approach to achieve “functional zero homelessness” in the inner city.

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The Zero Project, run by Adelaide-based think-tank the Don Dunstan Foundation, aims to ensure the number of people sleeping rough on any given night matches the amount of secure accommodation available.

At last night’s council meeting, councillors carried a unanimous motion to enter into a partnership with the Don Dunstan Foundation.

The motion includes a total funding package of $148,625, to be spent over the next 18 months, which will be used to support the implementation of the zero project, the foundation’s “social capital” thinkers in residence program and the Adelaide Business Alliance to End Homelessness.

Adelaide became the first city outside the US to commit to implementing the Project Zero program when the council flagged its interest in August last year.

The program starts with knowing the names of all the people sleeping rough on any given night and reporting publicly on the overall numbers in as close to real-time as possible. From there, new and existing housing options are aligned to move people on the by-name list into permanent residences.

Don Dunstan Foundation executive director David Pearson said the project would now enter its implementation phase, which includes compiling the names list and working with stakeholders and homeless people to organise allocation of housing.

“We’ve finished our 90-day project implementation plan which (includes) some of the details, timelines and targets,” he said.

“That report will come out in the next couple of weeks and we’ll move on from there.”

North ward councillor Phil Martin described the concept as a “whole-of-problem approach” that had worked well in the US.

“We’re spending more on the homeless than we have ever spent before,” councillor Martin told the meeting.

“Everything else we’re doing should be ancillary to this.”

On average about 120 people sleep rough on Adelaide’s streets each night.

In November last year, Adelaide officially became a “vanguard city”, one of only a small number of cities worldwide working with the Institute of Global Homelessness (IGH) to end street homelessness by 2020.

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