These reports present the results of an evaluation of Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI).
Final report published 2014
Sacred Heart Mission
J2SI is a program to end chronic homelessness by providing intensive support to help the long-term homeless access a range of necessary services.
In 2009, Sacred Heart Mission contracted the Centre for Applied Social Research (RMIT University) and the Institute for Applied Economic and Social Analysis (The University of Melbourne) to undertake a four year evaluation of a new program called Journey to Social Inclusion. Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI) was designed to permanently end chronic homelessness. The pilot provided intensive support for three years to assist people who were long-term homeless to receive the range of services they need.
Using a randomised controlled trial the researchers tracked participants in both the treatment and control groups to assess the impact of the J2SI program on the participants’ housing, their physical and mental health, service usage, drug use, their social networks and contact with the criminal justice system for the duration of the program. A final follow-up interview was held with participants one year after the trial finished. The evaluation included a cost benefit analysis of the program, and at the end of each year an outcomes report was released.
- Assoc Prof Guy Johnson (RMIT University)
- Dr Yi Ping Tseng (Melbourne University)
- Dr Sharon Parkinson (RMIT University)
- Dr Daniel Kuhlne (Melbourne University)
- Melbourne Institute for Applied Economic and Social Research
Report # 1: Long-term homelessness: Understanding the challenge - 12 months outcomes from the Journey to Social Inclusion pilot program.
This is the first of four reports evaluating the J2SI program and documents the preliminary outcomes from the first 12 months of the J2SI evaluation. The evaluation tracks the outcomes of J2SI participants over the 12 month period and compares their outcomes with a control group of long-term homeless who are being supported by existing services.
Report # 2: Meeting the Challenge? Transitions out of long-term homelessness. A randomised controlled trial examining the 24 month costs, benefits and social outcomes from the Journey to Social Inclusion pilot program.
This is the second of four reports evaluating the J2SI program. It documents the health, housing, service usage and social network outcomes from the first 24 months of the randomised controlled trial evaluating J2SI’s effectiveness. The report also includes a cost benefit analysis.
Report # 3: Resolving long-term homelessness: A randomised controlled trial examining the 36 month costs, benefits and social outcomes from the Journey to Social Inclusion pilot program.
This third report presents the social and economic outcomes after the completion of the pilot (36 months).
After three years, 80% of the original participants remained involved in the trial and the evidence suggests that J2SI had a significant impact on the lives of most participants. After three years, 85% of J2SI participants were housed compared to 41% of those who were receiving existing services. Over the course of the trial J2SI participants were housed for 67% of the time, or nearly twice as long as those in the control group (35%).
The evidence confirms that given the right level of support people who have experienced long-term homelessness can maintain their housing. There are however a number of areas where there was little change. Most notably we found little change at any stage in the trial in the substance use behaviour of the participants. Similarly, the extent to which the participants felt connected to and supported by the community did not change a great deal over the three years. Further, we found the short-term economic benefit to be modest, with a return of between 0.15 and 0.22 for every dollar invested. Taking into account lives saved over a 10 year time frame the economic benefit was more substantial, with a $1.30 return for every dollar invested.
Report # 4: Sustaining exits from long-term homelessness: A randomised controlled trial examining the 48 month social outcomes from the Journey to Social Inclusion pilot program.
This report presents the social and economic outcomes of the J2SI pilot. It covers the three years the trial ran, and the 12 month period following the completion of the trial.
After 48 months 67% of the original participants remained involved in the trial. There were signs that in the absence of J2SI that the impact of the program was declining in some areas. After three years, 85% of J2SI participants were housed compared to 41% of those who were receiving existing services.
In the 12 months following its closure the proportion of J2SI participants who were housed dropped by 10 percentage points to 75%. Although this was substantially higher than at baseline, compares favourably with international studies, and is still 17 percentage points higher than that reported by the control group (58%), it was the first ‘substantial’ decline we have observed over the four year period.
Similarly, while the emotional health of the J2SI participants improved and they report lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression after four years compared to where they were at the start of the trial, the results are not much different to those reported by Group E. Similarly, although there had been substantial gains in the labour force participation rate during the trial, these gains were not sustained when J2SI closed. Throughout the trial we found little change in the substance use behaviour of the participants, although this is a common finding in studies evaluating service impacts among the long-term homeless. Finally, we found the short-term economic benefit to be modest but trending upwards, with a return of 0.25 for every dollar invested. Taking into account lives saved over a 10 year time frame the economic benefit was more substantial, with a $1.32 return for every dollar invested.