Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

Sydney launches ‘Common Ground’ in an effort to reduce chronic homelessness

Representatives from government, business, philanthropy and the NGO sector today launched the ‘Common Ground’ homelessness initiative in Sydney.

Common Ground is an innovative way of housing rough sleepers. The ‘street-tohome’ initiative means homeless people are provided with their own apartments, enter into rental agreements and pay rent.

It is combined with individualised health, support and training employment services and has been running in the United States since 1990. The Common Ground model is now recognised internationally and has won numerous international awards in the field of homelessness.

Federal Tanya Plibersek told the launch that Common Ground builds a unique partnership between government on all levels, business, philanthropy and the non-government sector to create a strong foundation for moving people off the streets.

“Common Ground is unique in that it identifies the services a homeless Australian needs and provides them at the same time as providing a roof over people’s heads,” Ms Plibersek said.

“The Rudd Government is strongly committed to working with the private sector to make Common Ground a reality in Sydney.” Australian Common Ground Alliance Patron Therese Rein said: “Common Ground is a success story overseas and interstate. Now it is coming to Sydney, bringing with it the hope of ending chronic homelessness.

“Common Ground delivers effective solutions to long term homelessness because it assists people who are sleeping rough to immediately become tenants, with their own lockable secure “place”. It also provides real 24 hour on site support to help people maintain their tenancies,” she said.

City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone said: “Many of these people have been sleeping and living rough on our streets for very long periods, and in some cases for years.

“The goal of Common Ground of ending chronic homelessness is one shared and strongly supported by the City of Sydney,” she said.

NSW Housing Minister David Borger said the NSW Government would work closely with Common Ground Sydney.

“The NSW Government congratulates Common Ground Sydney and the steps being taken to help some of the most marginalized in our community” he said.

Program founder Roseanne Haggerty brought the Common Ground model to Australia in 2006 when she was then advising the South Australian Government.