This research reports on the housing outcomes of families participating in the Keeping Families Together (KFT) program. KFT is a supportive housing program for families in the Brisbane area, aiming to enable extremely low-income families to exit homelessness, access and sustain affordable housing, and to disengage from (or avoid engaging with) Queensland’s child safety system. As the first supportive housing for families model to be established in Queensland, the delivery of the KFT program holds important lessons for the development and refinement of future iterations of the program, as well as for other interventions that aim to prevent homelessness and child safety intervention more generally.
We find that through the provision of access to affordable housing and integrated support, KFT had demonstrable positive impacts on participating families’ housing outcomes. However, the program also encountered significant challenges – many of which stemmed from the program’s reliance on sourcing housing through the private rental market. This approach contributed to continued instability for many of the families, as well as the accumulation of debt. Similarly, the reliance on the private rental market as an exit pathway from the program, due to a lack of available social and affordable housing, represented a profound barrier to families transitioning out of the program when they felt ready to do so.
An adequate supply of good quality social and affordable housing is critical if the full potential of KFT is to be realised. With an allocation of social housing, coupled with integrated support services, families will have a greater chance of success in achieving housing stability and avoiding the accumulation of debt across multiple properties. This will have significant flow-on effects for enabling families to work on stabilising and moving forward in other aspects of their lives.