In 2008 the Mercy Foundation joined with a number of other organisations in Australia to form the Australian Common Ground Alliance (ACGA). The Alliance was created to advocate for and help develop and implement Common Ground permanent supportive housing buildings across Australia.
The founding members of the Alliance were:
Mercy Foundation (New South Wales)
Common Ground Adelaide (South Australia)
Micah Projects (Queensland)
Since 2008 and the development of a number of Common Ground projects, the ACGA also includes Common Ground Canberra and the Camperdown Support Services (based at Common Ground Camperdown in Sydney, managed by Mission Australia Housing).
Stephen Nash, the former CEO of Homeground was the founding Chair of the ACGA (2008 - 2011). Felicity Reynolds, CEO of the Mercy Foundation, was Chairf rom 2011 until the ACGA ceased meeting. It is anticipated that the ACGA will form a network within the new Australian Alliance to End Homelessness.
The Mercy Foundation was actively involved in advocating for and supporting the development of a Common Ground building in Sydney. Together with individuals working at the City of Sydney, BCS Lifecare and KPMG a Common Ground Sydney working group was established in 2008.
This group, also known as the Common Ground NSW Advisory Group, hosted a launch of the proposal in September 2008. In attendance at that launch was the then Federal Minister for Housing, the Hon Tanya Plibersek as well as State Government Ministers and the then Premier of NSW, the Hon Nathan Rees. The government, a number of corporate organisations as well as supportive NGOs made commitments to help develop the Common Ground proposal at that launch.
The launch event in 2008 was hosted by KPMG and guest speakers included:
Hon Nathan Rees, Premier of New South Wales
Hon Linda Burney, NSW Minister for Community Services
Hon David Borger, NSW Minister for Housing
Ms Therese Rein, Patron of the Australian Common Ground Alliance
Hon Tanya Plibersek, Federal Minister for Housing and the Status of Women
Councillor Marcelle Hoff, City of Sydney
Mr Daniel Grollo, CEO Grocon
Mr Stephen Nash, CEO Homeground
Ms Felicity Reynolds, CEO Mercy Foundation
At this landmark event to begin the active establishment of Common Ground in Sydney, the following commitments were made:
The NSW State Government confirmed its commitment to Common Ground Sydney and noted that Housing NSW would actively look for a suitable site to offer Common Ground. The Premier, the Hon Nathan Rees made it clear that he wanted his government to actively address homelessness in NSW.
Daniel Grollo, CEO of Grocon made the commitment that, should the government provide a site, then they would construct the building ‘at cost’.
The two law firms Griffith Hack and Landers and Rogers offered their pro bono legal assistance to the project.
All existing partner organisations re-iterated their support for the project.
Since the launch, two more organisations offered pro bono support to Common Ground Sydney. These were:
Gallagher Jeffs – Project Management Company, Minter Ellison – Law firm.
Following that launch, the Mercy Foundation worked closely with the working group and government to help establish the first Common Ground project in Sydney. The NSW Government, through HNSW identified a site at Camperdown in 2009 and made significant funding commitments to the project.
Housing NSW managed the project and Grocon was appointed as the developer/builder.Hassell were the architects. MA Housing was awarded the tender to be the tenancy manager for the building. In 2011, a consortium of services, known as the Inner City Integrated Services (ICIS) was awarded the tender to provide the support services at the Camperdown Common Ground building.
Common Ground Camperdown, with 104 new units of affordable housing, was officially opened by the NSW Minister for Family and Community Services, the Hon Pru Goward and the Federal Minister for Homelessness, the Hon Mark Arbib in November 2011.
The Mercy Foundation is not directly involved in managing or providing services at Common Ground Camperdown. Our primary role has been working in partnership to help create new units of housing specifically for people who have experienced chronic homelessness. Permanent supportive housing ends homelessness. The Mercy Foundation is a member of the Common Ground Camperdown Advisory Committee.
Please note, if you want to enquire about applying for or referring someone to Common Ground Camperdown you must contact Mission Australia Housing. Do not contact the Mercy Foundation.
If you would like more information about Common Ground Camperdown or enquire about applying to be a tenant, contact Mission Australia Housing.
Common Ground is a permanent supportive housing model that originated in New York. It ends people’s chronic homelessness by making available long term independent housing with the appropriate support services to sustain people in that housing.
Roseanne Haggerty is the Founder and President of Common Ground New York. She has also written widely on the issue of ending homelessness. Links to two documents she has written for Australian State governments are listed at the end of this page.
It is importnat to rememnber that not only do permanent supportive housing projects, such as Common Ground, end people's homelessness - they can also save our community money. The ongoing costs of supporting people while they stay homeless can often be significant.
Some of the costs associated with servicing, rather than solving homelessness are:
The cost of permanent supportive housing for people who have been formerly chronically homeless involves the cost of the housing and the cost of the support. Some studies have estimated that it costs the same or less to provide permanent supportive housing compared to providing services while people remain homeless.
For more information about Common Ground and the founder of Common Ground in New York, read Rosanne Haggerty’s report for the South Australian Thinkers in Residence Program: www.thinkers.sa.gov.au
Also read Rosanne’s report for the Tasmanian Government on Ending Homelessness In Tasmania: cdd.dpac.tas.gov.au