2020 Round 4 Winner

Head Start Homes

A safe and stable home for every Australian

At Head Start Homes, we enable housing tenants who are Indigenous, disabled and/or single parents to pursue their home ownership dreams, without the need for a deposit, via our Head Start Guarantee and empowerment services.

Our home ownership pathway frees up much-needed homes for those on housing wait-lists who are likely to be homeless. Our holistic approach to reducing homelessness and poverty, combined with our cross-sector partnerships, makes us the missing piece in the home ownership puzzle for Australians in need. Home ownership is one of the best ways to end inter-generational poverty. This is because home ownership provides a secure asset to rely on in retirement, as well as an inheritance to pass on.

By empowering community housing tenants to voluntarily vacate their home, we deliver a far more cost-effective and efficient solution in comparison to building more housing stock for vulnerable families. We estimate that one contribution of $72,000 could make an additional 6 community housing homes available over 30 years. This is in comparison to building 6 new homes which would cost approximately $2.2 million. In this way, we deliver a multiplier effect for ending poverty and homelessness. For every community housing tenant we empower to achieve home ownership, we also remove the risk of homelessness from a more vulnerable family on the social housing waitlist.

Our home ownership pilot program is taking place in the Port Macquarie region (Mid-North Coast of NSW). There is a serious shortage of affordable housing, and waiting times to access community housing often exceeds 10 years for vulnerable families in this area, exposing them to repeated risk of homelessness. Community housing provides a much-needed pathway out of the crisis of homelessness and the vulnerability of housing stress. The journey beyond community housing is presently so difficult that very few households are able to exit and regain the financial autonomy, choice and control over their future that they desire. 

Our home ownership pathway means that for most of our clients, paying a mortgage on a suitable family home is around the same or less of a financial commitment than the current rent paid in their long-term housing tenancies. For these reasons, we know there is a great opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our Aboriginal clients living in Port Macquarie who dream of a safe and secure home to call their own. 

We also seek to address the social issue of low rates of Indigenous home ownership. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have long faced higher barriers to home ownership than the rest of Australia’s population. Various forms of direct and indirect exclusion – including fewer employment and educational opportunities, as well as poorer access to health and financial services – have continued to make it difficult for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to own their own home. Today, figures show that only 38% of Indigenous Australians own a home, compared with 66% of non-Indigenous Australians (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019). This is even more pronounced in remote areas where Indigenous home ownership halves again, dropping to around 18%.

Charlene, a single Aboriginal Mum of 3 children and a Head Start Homes applicant said "Starting a savings plan was helpful. I’ve been determined. As soon as I was told about the opportunity - an opportunity of a lifetime for me - I’ve had such a determination. I can put things on hold while I do this. That’s been my mindset".

A Sunsuper Dreams for a Better World grant will help us support at least 10 Indigenous clients in 12 months by expanding our financial empowerment service, specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. This service will include:

• Providing our Head Start Guarantee which removes the need for a deposit and mortgage insurance

• Budgeting tools and resources

• Savings plans

• Financial literacy resources

• Education services to help our clients become mortgage ready

• Personalised property coaching

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