Pathway from out-of-home care to independence

Being able to afford to live in Sydney is difficult for any 18-year-old leaving home for the first time, but it is even more difficult if you are leaving out-of-home care. Without stable family support networks to fall back on if things don’t go according to plan, there is a greater risk of becoming homeless. Foyer51 Chippendale seeks to fill a housing need and will provide transitional housing for young people, aged 18 to 22, who are leaving out-of-home care.

Artist impression of Foyer51 from City Road Image: Supplied
Artist impression of Foyer51 from City Road Image: Supplied

Foyer51 is a joint venture between Uniting, which will provide the onsite mentoring and support services to assist young people to transition to independence over a period of up to two years; St George Community Housing (SGCH), which is developing and will manage the housing; and Social Ventures Australia with the backing of the NSW Government ($33 million) and City of Sydney Council ($3 million).

The building will be located on City Road opposite Victoria Park and is expected to be ready for occupation in 2021. It will consist of 51 student housing-style accommodation rooms over two levels with a lower-ground level of common recreational rooms opening onto a garden courtyard on the sloping site. Foyer51 will provide around-the-clock support for the young residents, who will be encouraged to pursue study and/or work in the local area. There will also be up to 26 additional boarding house-style units of affordable housing for low-income workers, with a separate lobby and lift access and rooftop terrace.

Foyer Artists Impression of courtyard from Myrtle Lane Image: supplied

Foyer Artists Impression of courtyard from Myrtle Lane Image: supplied

The site is presently owned by Land and Housing Corporation. Prior to the announcement of the project Family and Community Services notified the current social housing residents, and a FACS spokesperson advised that: “All residents at the City Road site have been given the opportunity to permanently relocate to new social housing in Cowper Street Glebe. Tenants choosing this option will move directly into their new unit by November 2017.

“The homes at Cowper Street are modern, fully accessible long-term dwellings located just 550 metres from the City Road site. This will allow tenants to stay in their community, retain their daily routines and social circles, and access their existing service providers.

“If a tenant prefers to be permanently relocated elsewhere, he or she will be able to discuss individual housing needs with a Relocation Officer and will move to a suitable property when one is identified.

“The sale of the City Road site will be finalised pending development application approval.”

At one of the consultation days (September 22 and 23) for local agencies and residents, Renee Wirth from SGCH outlined that the higher purchase price of the site was weighed against the advantages of its location in an area with opportunities for residents to establish links with local education facilities and job options without the cost of long commutes from suburbs with lower rents.

Currently Sydney is facing a housing crisis, with visible homelessness. Foyer51’s concept is based on the proven results of models from around the world. Lou Limoges, responsible for Youth and Homelessness at Uniting, explained that the number of units was determined by the experience of Youth Foyer housing in Western Australia and Victoria to ensure a group size that allows space for individuality without creating an institutional feel.

Some local community members and NGOs have welcomed the proposed development, while others have raised concerns about the suitability and size of the accommodation.

Alice Anderson, co-spokesperson of local residents’ group REDWatch, said: “As a young person under the age of 30, I have personally benefited from an affordable housing rental model (City West Housing), which has allowed me to stay in Sydney where I grew up, work and have most of my social connections. I have a lovely north-west-facing 34-square-metre apartment with a balcony. The units in Foyer51 will only be 20 square metres with no balconies and limited facilities, which raises questions about the quality of the housing.

“Last month City of Sydney rejected a development application for student housing by a private provider (Scape) at 35-47 Wilson Lane in Darlington due to concerns of substandard units. Will City of Sydney take the same stand with this development? Or will they just approve it due to them already having agreed to fund it?

“The City of Sydney area is in desperate need of affordable housing but should it really be at the cost of the quality of the housing and removal of public housing residents?”

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