Youth homelessness prevention organisation Kids Under Cover and Anglicare Victoria today welcomed an unprecedented funding commitment from the Victorian Government for an innovative homelessness prevention program – Village 21.
Village 21 is an accommodation and support program based around a village concept, assisting at-risk young people aged 18 and over who are leaving Out of Home Care. It has been reported that 35% of young people leaving Out of Home Care once they hit 18 end up homeless in the first year. Village 21 is designed to interrupt this spiral by providing six relocatable studios in western metropolitan Melbourne for young people to live in, with support, for two to three years. These village environments will assist in creating strong connections back to the community and teaching skills in self-sufficiency.
When leaving Out of Home Care at 18 years of age, many young people are ill equipped with the skills to live independently. In the Village 21 Program six young people will reside on site, with a live-in mentor provided through Anglicare Victoria. The Village is designed to support communal activities such as cooking together, maintaining shared gardens and learning life skills.
The funding commitment, made by the Victorian State Government, is a one-off grant to be invested specifically into this project providing certainty for at-risk young people aged 18 to 21.
“The Kids Under Cover Studio Program – building relocatable accommodation for at-risk young people on the property of carers and families – has been delivering proven early intervention measures in preventing youth homelessness, for nearly 30 years,” said Ms Swift. “The extension of this program into a village environment for a specific target group of young people, balanced with comprehensive mentoring and life-skills training, is a working example of early intervention. Prevention of youth homelessness is more likely to be delivered with this long-term vision.”
Clare Nyblom, Regional Director Western Region, Anglicare Victoria, explained that the demand for mainstream services from young homeless people in Victoria is greater than anywhere else in Australia.
“Prevention of youth homelessness is better than cure,” said Ms Nyblom. “And it starts with stable accommodation. We welcome this opportunity to work with Kids Under Cover to help young people successfully transition into independent living during a vital time in their lives. Youth homelessness rates in Victoria are of great concern. This program will change young people’s lives for the better and help them forge positive futures.”
Both organisations firmly believe that the preventative program will be effective in not only interrupting the spiral of homelessness, but will return significant value to society. A recent economic and social report by EY, commissioned by Kids Under Cover, revealed that for every $1 invested by Kids Under Cover over the last six years, has seen $4.17 returned in social value to the justice system, the health care system and to society as a whole.
But Ms Swift cautioned that despite this funding commitment, both organisation’s missions to prevent youth homelessness is far from complete.
“We are proud of what our programs have achieved to date. However according to the 2011 Census nearly half of Australia’s 105,000 homeless population is under the age of 25 we still have a lot of work to do.”
Since 1989, Kids Under Cover has supported over 3,000 young people and their families through its Studio Program, with further financial support offered through its Scholarship Program. More information can be found at kuc.org.au.
About Kids Under Cover
Established in 1989, Kids Under Cover is a not‑for‑profit organisation dedicated to preventing youth homelessness. Kids Under Cover is focused on early intervention to tackle youth homelessness through practical measures. The organisation helps keep families together by providing relocatable studios for young people in a carer’s or family’s backyard. These studios give at-risk young people a chance to stay close to their families or carers, and provide them the valuable space they need. The provision of secure accommodation is complemented with further education and training scholarships to financially assist young people who have the passion and the motivation to go on to higher education but do not have the resources. This unique combination of accommodation and educational support helps keep families together.
About Anglicare Victoria
Each year, Anglicare Victoria helps over 80,000 Victorians with the aim of alleviating hardship while building skills and resilience to overcome future hurdles. We do this through a range of diverse programs and services aimed towards strengthening families and communities so they can protect and nurture the children within them. More information can be found at anglicarevic.org.au
 CREATE foundation on care leavers (Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 2010)