Supporting and sustaining tenancies: Unison research and practice.

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Unison has featured in the latest Council to Homeless Persons’ Parity magazine. 

Acting CEO James KingSue Grigg Director for Housing and Homelessness and the Unison Housing Research Lab team have authored articles for the edition, which has the theme, Supporting and Sustaining Tenancies in Community Housing. 


James King’s article Let’s not return to normal, calls for the permanent increase in the Jobseeker allowance and more social housing.  COVID-19 has increased housing stress and community anxiety and young people, women and sole parents as well as socio-economically disadvantaged households will disproportionately bear the economic toll of the pandemic. 

Initiatives such as the JobSeeker COVID supplement, the eviction moratorium, JobKeeper and hotel accommodation support for people who are homeless are scheduled to end. In the article, James states it is crucial for Governmentto critically and carefully examine the responses to homelessness and invest in good quality social housing. 


Unison’s Director of Housing and Homelessness, Sue Grigg illustrates an example of Unison’s commitment to replace rooming houses with good quality self-contained apartments, in her article Sustaining tenancies in long term housing- a partnership approach. 

Unison has developed a partnership with McAuley Community Services for Women at our new 54 self-contained unit apartment building in Footscray. The collaboration aims to house and support vulnerable women settle and establish a long-term home. 

Sue’s article explains how the partnership was established to address the Unison Housing Research Lab’s finding in their report, Who stays, Who leaves and why? Occupancy Patterns at Unison Housing 2014-2016  that a high number of Unison tenancies were breaking down in the first 18 months, and we needed to strengthen collaboration with support agencies.  


Creating community: Tenant and staff perceptions of formal and informal processes in mixed-tenure community housing, is by Unison Research Lab PhD candidate, Fiona Carey. 

Fiona’s research looks at fostering a sense of community within mixed-tenure housing sites. Her piece is part of a larger ethnographic study that investigates the social life on two Unison mixed tenure sites in Melbourne with different socio-economic profiles.  

Sharing a meal, house meetings, walking groups and casual chats are examples of how connection is built and relationships developed, which can contribute to a sense of belonging and reduce isolationInformal and formal community building processes work for different reasons.  We look forward to reading the larger study. 


Tenancy Sustainment: Four research projects at Unison Housing, is a report by Professor Guy Johnson (Director of the Research Lab) and Dr Sarah Taylor, illustrating the Lab’s focus on the dynamics and determinants of tenancy sustainment. 

Only a small number of research studies have investigated in depth, tenancy sustainment directly following homelessness.  

In 2019, the Lab released a report Who stays, Who leaves and Why? that examined early tenancy loss. Since then, work has begun on a number of follow up projectsSustaining Tenancies: Profiles and Patterns examines Unison administrative data around ongoing and exited tenancies dating back to 2002. Is Permanent Supportive Housing permanent? looks at tenancy retention patterns at our Elizabeth Street CommonGround facility and is one of the first studies to look at retention patterns in a Permanent Supportive Housing/Housing First model. 

Maximising Impact, is the Lab’s flagship longitudinal study tracking 170 tenancies in different forms of housing spread across a range of geographic locations over a 2.5 year period.  Information is being collected on a broad range of issues thought to influence tenancy sustainment and satisfaction.  In the coming months baseline results will be released. 


Last but not least, Making and unmaking a rooming house: Unison and “Marj Oke”. Dr Sarah Taylor from the Lab, has written an interesting and evocative piece on Unison’s Fairfield property, which is currently undergoing a rebuild transforming the heritage building from a rooming house, to high quality new self-contained apartments for women. 

The heritage building's fascinating history includes the development of the MacRoberston chocolate and confectionary business and a 100+ year history of providing various forms of women's housing.  


More information about the Unison Housing Research Lab, can be found here 

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