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Housing and Homelessness Housing

Annual report on homelessness to home ownership

3 min read
home ownership

Despite the current crisis in housing affordability, record low levels of rental vacancies and property prices at an all-time high, one organisation is making home ownership a reality for those who never thought it possible.

Head Start Homes (HSH) is a community organisation that helps single mothers, First Nations Peoples and other families living in community housing to buy their own home, without a bank deposit.

In a little over 12 months, HSH has helped more than 50 beneficiaries with their Empowerment Services (which includes savings plans and credit checks) and has also helped four households buy their own home, thereby freeing up an additional four social and affordable homes.

HSH today released its 2021 interactive annual report, providing details on its unique model that successfully creates a holistic pathway from homelessness to home ownership.

This year’s report highlights the story of Eyasu and Martha, an Adelaide couple with three children, who against all odds are now proud homeowners. Eyasu fled war-torn Ethiopia and lived in a refugee camp for 20 years, where he first met Kenyan-born Martha. Eyasu migrated to Australia in 2010 and then spent three years living in a homeless shelter while he waited for Martha and the children to follow him out.

When Martha finally arrived in Australia, the family was housed with the Adelaide Benevolent Society for almost a decade before the couple were able to purchase their own home earlier this year, with Head Start Homes assistance.

Another highlight is the story of two Burketown residents Maddy and Jordan, who work for Burke Shire Council in far northwest Queensland. Thanks to the HSH ownership pathway, Maddy and Jordan were able to secure home loans without the need for a deposit or mortgage insurance on properties owned by the Council and sold to them at a 40% discount. With banking partner Westpac accepting the valuation price rather than the sale price, no lender’s mortgage insurance was required.

HSH Chair, Vanessa Chan, said the second year of the pandemic had exacerbated the issue of housing affordability and homelessness, intensifying the need for a new approach to housing security and affordability solutions for vulnerable Australians.

“We are providing multiple innovations to tackle the barriers to homelessness, and I believe the HSH model proves there is a way forward for people to realise their home ownership dream,” she said.

“I am so grateful to our generous supporters for making this possible. They have helped give a number of deserving families a secure future, freeing them from housing poverty.”

HSH Founder and Managing Director, Stephen Woodlands, said the organisation’s concept was about empowering people to take charge of their own lives.

“We believe that empowering our clients to open their own doors is the best way to achieve our vision of a safe and stable home for everyone, with fair and practical pathways into home ownership,” he said.

“We also know that home ownership is the best way to reduce intergenerational poverty.

“We’ve identified three major barriers into home ownership: the deposit, know-how and supply barriers. We are proud to be addressing these with our innovative solutions, providing a pathway from homelessness to home ownership.

“Our model has positive ripple effects because when one family moves into their own home, it frees up a newly vacated community housing home for another family in need who are likely to be homeless.”

Mr Woodlands said this year, the board had been exploring the feasibility of a “Head Start Purchase Option” as a new home ownership pathway, where clients would be given a condition-free option to purchase their community housing rental home at a discount, once they are home-owner ready.

“This would have a range of immediate benefits for community housing tenants, including improving their sense of belonging, because they will know that one day their rental home could be theirs,” he said.

Other HSH annual report highlights include:

  • An interview with Jody Broun, Chief Executive of the Aboriginal Housing Office – partner organisation to HSH, who said: “They are doing it the right way – giving people choice, helping them through the process, holding their hand and stepping them through the whole thing which fits well with the AHO strategy as well as our philosophy about choice and empowering people.”

  • Comments from founding partner Westpac – Managing Director of Mortgages, Anthony Hughes, said the partnership aligns with Westpac’s long-standing vision to help more Australians into their own homes.

  • Quotes and endorsements from the over 100 cross sector business and charities that support Head Start Homes, providing in-kind support that is valued at $403,000 and a total contribution to date of $2.5million.

  • A snapshot of the wonderful support provided by the skilled volunteers who this year donated hours to the value of more than $156,000.

  • An overview of how HSH’s empowerment products, services and innovations help its clients overcome the deposit, know-how and supply barriers.

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Lourdes Antenor is an experienced writer who specialises in the not-for-profit sector and its affiliations. She is the content producer for Third Sector News, an online knowledge-based platform for and about the Australian NFP sector.


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