‘Straight into homelessness’: housing plight of mentally ill Australians revealed

One in five chronically homeless people find themselves on the street after leaving psychiatric facilities and more than half have a psychotic illness, a study has found.

The study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday, also found one in five became homeless after leaving public housing – a finding that shocked researchers and support services.

The findings have prompted renewed calls for Australian jurisdictions to adopt the housing first model, a policy of quickly getting those experiencing homelessness into a home and then wrapping support services around them.

“What was surprising was the number of people who had exited straight from a government institution into homelessness. Those figures we’d never had before,” Katherine McKernan, chief executive of Homelessness NSW, said.

“No one’s ever asked them, ‘Where have you come from?’, so that’s the biggest finding. What it really indicates is that, firstly, that supportive housing, or housing first, really needs to be put in place in Australia.

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