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Australian impact bond targets youth homelessness

The government of New South Wales is leading a program called Foyer51 to provide housing and support services to young adults leaving Australia’s foster-care system.

Exiting foster care “can be the ‘end of the road’” for continuing support when youths turn 18, putting them at a higher risk of homelessness, says Bob Mulcahy, director of resilient families at Uniting, a community non-profit that is part of the program.

Foyer51 will provide education, healthcare, employment opportunities and up to 18 months of housing, and will include construction of a new housing complex with 26 affordable rental units for low-income workers.

New South Wales has issued a social-benefit bond to attract private investment and has agreed to commit up to A$33 million ($26 million) over the life of the initiative. The city of Sydney has committed A$3 million.

Social Ventures Australia and St. George Community Housing, a social-services organization, are also participating. The program represents a proactive approach to a problem that the government has been tackling reactively, as with the recent clearing of a homeless camp in Sydney’s inner city.

Other Australian states have issued impact bonds addressing both homelessness and foster care.

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