Common Problems

Homelessness Toolkit

I have a client experiencing or at risk of homelessness. What can I do?

A lot of existing housing services specialise in a particular type of housing and it is often up to the client to find the right service. As support services we can assist them in exploring their housing options and making informed decisions about their next course of action.

Here is a housing pack you can use to assess, explore housing options, and plan:

  1. Housing Checklist
  2. Housing Options
  3. Housing Action Plan

1. Assess

What’s their housing background? Understanding background can save a lot of time down the track because it can help identify barriers as well as their internal and external resources.
What are a few good questions to ask?

What are their last TWO accommodations?
This is a question they ask in every housing application whether it’s private or public housing.

What is their general housing history?
E.g. perhaps the last 2 places they lived in were rooming houses but previously they had a long history of private rental or owned their own home. Have they moved around a lot?

What housing are they interested in?

Have a look at the Tenants Union Victoria Property Inspection Checklist to help guide your questions in terms of property features.

What are they looking for?
There is the tendency to for people to say “I don’t care, I just want a roof over my head”. Try asking what they don’t want; often people aren’t particular about what they want, but they know they don’t want.

Have they looked for, or applied for anything recently?
Sometimes people don’t tell you this unless you ask (e.g. it didn’t work out so it’s not worth talking about it). One of the potential benefits of finding out about what they’ve already tried is it identifies what skills they have in sourcing their own accommodation.

What are their housing options?

Once you have an idea of what kind of housing they are interested in, it’s important to look at what kind of housing they can access.

If a person is homeless, the first course of action should be to access short-term accommodation (such as a rooming house or refuge). Rooming houses tend to be the option that most crisis services provide because it is the most available on the day. They tend to be expensive and unsafe. A lot of refuges and crisis accommodations are full and have waiting lists. It is important for them to know that can be a TEMPORARY option and they can work on getting more secure accommodation.

If they refuse the short-term option, and prefer to look at medium-term social or private housing options, they need to understand that this is likely to take more time and they will not be successful immediately.

Consider looking into the Types of Accommodation section with a client.

TIP - If they are on a DSP, they can apply for private rental which will allow them to pass the long waiting lists for social housing, but it will still take time and a lot of effort.

A lot of people are interested in public housing. Let them know that long-term options tend to take more time, and encourage them to work on this once they have at least short-term or medium-term housing options.

2. Planning

Use Housing Action Plan and Housing Property Search.

Once they have selected an option to work on, provide them with information on those housing options using Types of Accommodation.

You can ask them to write their own housing action plan and review the The Tenants Union Victoria Property Inspection Checklist for guidance.