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A Home for the Homeless – Eiren Black

On December 20th 2013 an official Turning the Sod ceremony launched the construction on what will be a highly innovative local project supporting people in our community experiencing long-term homelessness.

Located in Gungahlin, the Common Ground Canberra development will be a 40-unit site of which half will be for long-term homeless Canberrans and the remainder affordable housing for people on low-incomes.

Common Ground Canberra aims to create a community with positive role models for all residents, rather than a concentrated pocket of disadvantage. Common Ground Canberra ensures an integrated social mix of tenants (with 50 per cent of tenants who previously experienced homelessness and 50 per cent of persons on low incomes).

A vibrant social mix will reduce the stigma for tenants and promotes community through diversity of interests and backgrounds. This mix is intended to foster a belief in the possibility of change and create a viable community.

The development will provide a safe, high quality place to live and the support services and security required to keep them housed, healthy and stable.

It is these most at risk and marginalised Canberrans who are the focus of Common Ground Canberra’s work.

24 hour caretaker and security features will ensure the Common Ground Canberra development is as safe as possible and is a secure place to live.

Supportive living coordinates the two essential elements in ending homelessness by providing permanent, affordable and safe housing together with long-term tailored support services. Supportive living gets people housed and keeps people housed.

Common Ground Canberra represents a truly community-wide attempt to address homelessness. In 2013 the Commonwealth and ACT Governments announced joint funding for the Common Ground Canberra initiative, with land being provided in the Gungahlin Town Centre.

Two of Canberra’s respected housing and community service organisations have been announced as part of the Common Ground Canberra team.

Northside Community Service has won the tender to provide services to residents of the Common Ground community while Argyle Community Housing has secured the role of tenancy manager.

Northside brings a significant amount of experience in supporting vulnerable people while Argyle is a large national provider of community housing with an excellent reputation in its field.

Having the two organisations on board at an early stage will ensure they have input into the design of the site and the suite of support offered to residents.

The Common Ground Australia model is informed by the international experience of Common Ground (New York), founded by Rosanne Haggerty in 1990. Common Ground operates on the principle that reducing homelessness isn’t just a public health or social services challenge, but a real estate challenge as well.

The Common Ground model was first introduced to Australia by David Capo in South Australia. There are now Common Ground sites operating across Australia, providing more than 700 units for people who have experienced chronic homelessness and low incomes.

Common Ground Canberra promotes social inclusion and introduces opportunities for surrounding communities. We are pleased to be associated with the GCC and looks forward to building a strong and successful relationship with the Gungahlin community.

Donations to Common Ground Canberra will be used to provide housing and support services for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. It will be used in the furnishings and fit out of Common Ground residential units at Gungahlin and/or for the provision of caretaker support services to the residents who are housed there.

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