Working Paper

From Hostels to Hotels: An Empirical Study of Brisbane’s Innovative Homelessness Response

Published: 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an impetus for government and community organisations to significantly re-think how they respond to homelessness. In the second quarter of 2020, the Queensland Government closed Brisbane’s main transitional housing and congregate-style homelessness facilities. In their place, an innovative homelessness accommodation response was established, which provides short-term supported accommodation in the form of self-contained hotel rooms at The Park Hotel (the Park). This research empirically and conceptually examines the Park as an innovative homelessness response.

We identify three key findings. First, despite the challenges of working within an environment that was not purpose-built, the Park service model was widely experienced as positive for facilitating practice and respecting the dignity and humanity of residents. Second, the residents living in the Park had extensive and complex homelessness histories which, in conjunction with the current lack of social and affordable housing, meant moving out of the Park within a short time-frame was not a feasible expectation. Third, residents wanted to be supported on their own terms to address their self-identified needs and achieve their own housing goals. However, limitations in the administrative data (particularly related to ‘duration of need’ and ‘reasons for exit’) impeded our ability to capture the realities faced by residents once they had exited the Park, including whether they were successful in achieving their housing goals.

Our findings foreground the need for continued advocacy for the Queensland Government to increase their investment in social housing, as a lack of social housing is the critical determiner of whether Park residents can achieve positive exits and housing outcomes. In addition, it is critical for the Queensland Government to improve the mandatory data that is collected at the Park, alongside making unidentifiable Queensland Government data available to capture residents’ pathways after their stay at the Park.


Stambe, R., Ablaza, C., Parsell, C., Robinson, R., Plage, S., & Kuskoff E. (2023). ‘From Hostels to Hotels: An Empirical Study of Brisbane’s Innovative Homelessness Response’, Life Course Centre Working Paper Series, 2023-16. Institute for Social Science Research, The University of