As South Australia settles into a new normal in the wake of the pandemic, the Next Step Outreach team has adapted and learned new and innovative ways of supporting our young people to find a house they can call home.
Throughout the year, 125 young people were supported by the Next Step outreach program with 99% either accessing or maintaining their housing throughout the year. Of these young people, 89% moved out of our accommodation services into independent housing or reunified with their family. More female young people (57%) accessed our service as opposed to males (41%) while 2% of young people identified as neither male nor female. Culturally, 24% of our young people identified as First Nations while a further 22% were from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds.
Consistent with the employment industry, the pandemic has seen the private rental sector turn towards more electronic means of communication, which has disadvantaged our young people who present less favourability at the application stage. Alongside this trend, rental prices have risen such that young people who hope to rent with friends or family are struggling to afford the increased cost.
In response, our team has worked diligently to build upon our relationships with individual agents within the sector, while also shifting our focus towards the more affordable shared housing sector. Our advocacy in this area has ensured that close to 10% of young people supported by Next Step accessed share housing, importantly, with leases in place. We also delivered six housing information roundtables across our organisation during school holidays for young people living in our services. In addition, we held two housing affordability seminars for high schools to highlight the challenges that can confront young people when seeking to secure private rental.
Despite the pandemic and the unique challenges homelessness presents each day, we continue to be humbled by our young people’s resilience, talent, and hopes for the future. There have been many examples – we’ve seen our young people become leaders in their workplaces, reengage with SACE, exhibit artwork, and even engage in organised protests to support human rights.
As ever, with the support of our generous community of donors, the Next Step Outreach team will continue to work alongside young people to build upon their successes over the years ahead.