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New housing service to get homeless "off the streets for good"

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A new housing service has been launched to assist South Australians on low incomes or experiencing homelessness find permanent homes, after the State Government cut funding to peak housing group Shelter SA this month.

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InDaily reported in March that the State Government would cease funding Shelter SA from September and transition all housing and homelessness funding into a new expanded service.

The 42-year-old organisation was invited to apply for the $3 million tender to deliver the new service, but its executive director Alice Clark declined, claiming the proposal “sadly does not appear to provide for an independent voice”.

Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink this week announced that not-for-profit organisation SYC, which primarily supports young people facing disadvantage, had won the three-year tender to operate the Government’s new “Housing Advice, Advocacy and Engagement Service”.

The service will from next month provide over-the-phone, email and face-to-face advice to South Australians who need support navigating the housing system.

It will also provide people with financial and dispute resolution advice, as well as support to maintain tenancies and links to legal services.

SYC already operates a range of housing services including the Tenants Information and Advisory Service, SA Youth Homelessness Gateway and the Eastern Adelaide Youth Homelessness Service.

Lensink said the new service would bring together services that were previously offered by multiple organisations including Shelter SA and Anglicare.

She said the aim of the new service was to “get people off the streets for good” by diverting attention away from the “crisis end” of the homelessness system.

“The new approach is in response to direct feedback from people with lived experience in the homelessness system,” she said.

“South Australians told us the system was often difficult to navigate, and they had to repeat their personal situation to multiple agencies.

“By offering this assistance as one service, it will make it easier for people to get the help they need at a time when they are under great stress and facing an uncertain housing future.”

The Government said more details about how to access the new service would be confirmed before October 1.

Meanwhile, Shelter SA is establishing a new business model that Clark said would enable the organisation “to continue its vital work as an independent advocate and voice for those struggling to find a safe place to call home in South Australia”.

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