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Victoria’s first Social Impact Investment to tackle the state’s rising homelessness statistics

Sacred Heart Mission’s innovative social impact investment program is expanding to tackle homelessness in the state

Victoria’s ground-breaking social impact investment program is expanding through new partnerships to tackle the state’s homelessness issue.

Sacred Heart Mission (SHM) and the Victorian Government recently launched the state’s first Social Impact Investment (SII) – Journey To Social Inclusion Program (J2SI) – an innovative financing structure that supports positive social change.

Cathy Humphrey, CEO, said SHM is thrilled to have negotiated and now implement the state’s first SII, which focuses on achieving outcomes by creating lasting positive social change for communities and individuals.

“More than ten years ago, SHM set out to make a real impact to its community, and has since been testing, piloting and replicating a program that ends a person’s chronic homelessness permanently once and for all,” Cathy said.

“Extensively evaluating J2SI through a randomised control trial sets a new benchmark for addressing chronic homelessness in Australia.

“We are beyond proud to run one of the most effective programs to end homelessness in Australia, that will now be delivered to another 180 people through the state’s first SII.”

What makes J2SI so special is its innovative financing mechanism to pay a return based on agreed achievement of social outcomes in the community, such as people staying housed and a lower use of healthcare services.

The partnership has brought together various stakeholders from across sectors to provide loan guarantees to enable the funding of the program, which will be used to help break the cycle of homelessness for 180 people over the next five years.

The original pilot program, which ran from 2009–2012, was started by SHM with 40 participants receiving intensive support to break the cycle of chronic homelessness.

Some of the benefits in the housing-first approach of the program, were declining issues with drugs and alcohol, fewer nights spent in hospital and a reduction in health care costs.

“Negotiating a complex finance model to deliver the program has been no easy feat,” Cathy said.

“The SII brings together government, investors, philanthropy and SHM to share the risk of achieving outcomes for clients with the aim of achieving positive social change.

“More than ten years ago, SHM set out to make a real impact to its community, and has since been testing, piloting and replicating a program that ends a person’s chronic homelessness permanently once and for all.

“We are beyond proud to run one of the most effective programs to end homelessness in Australia, that will now be delivered to another 180 people through the state’s first SII.”

The National Australian Bank is one of SHM’s partners and has acted as an arranger for the financial aspects of the transaction.

The program’s financing model also allows it to be scaled and replicated under licence by social service organisations and state governments across Australia.

“As a corporate foundation aligned with one of Australia’s major banks, we believe we have a responsibility to engage in financial innovation to help address complex societal challenges,” said Lucy Doyle, Manager of the NAB Foundation.

“Impact investing has the potential to unlock philanthropic capital, giving us an opportunity to move beyond traditional grant making to support the scaling and sustainability of proven impactful projects like J2SI.”

 

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