The Common Ground model of supportive housing originated in New York City in the early 90’s. Due to the success of the model in ending homelessness it has expanded internationally. Five Australian States and one Territory now have at least one Common Ground development. The sixth State is currently planning for two new developments.
Brisbane Common Ground (BCG) opened in July of 2012 and was Queensland’s first supportive housing initiative. The principles developed in the successful New York City Common Ground model have been adopted by Common Ground Queensland and used to implement a specialised supportive housing property and tenancy management approach at Brisbane Common Ground.
In 2008 Common Ground Queensland was incorporated as a company, developed a Supportive Housing Framework and implemented a fundraising and advocacy campaign.
Common Ground Queensland developed the tender for the Property and Tenancy Management of Brisbane Common Ground, contributing to the design and development of the building, participating in community advocacy and partnership development, and completing further research and preparations.
Common Ground Queensland was appointed as the Property and Tenancy Managers at Brisbane Common Ground. To better understand our duties and our role in this supportive housing framework, we visited the Common Ground in New York to understand how it operates.
We then held a very successful fundraising dinner with Roseanne Haggerty, the founder of the Common Ground USA.
Construction of Brisbane Common Ground was completed.
Common Ground Queensland’s contract and funding negotiations were completed and we commence tenanting the building in July, reaching full occupancy in November 2012.
In August, Brisbane Common Ground was officially opened by the Honourable Bruce Flegg, Minister for Housing and Public Works and the Honourable Brendon O’Connor, Federal Minister for Housing, Homelessness and Small Business. Other dignitaries in attendance were the Honourable Kevin Rudd, Federal Member for Griffith.
We also held a second successful fundraising dinner, this time with Karen Hawke, a tenant from Common Ground Adelaide, as our guest speaker.
Common Ground saw the need for digital access for our tenants, and so began the ‘Digital Inclusion’ fundraising project to install wi-fi at Brisbane Common Ground.
Common Ground Queensland’s first successful year as property and Tenancy Managers of Brisbane Common Ground.
We commenced a community development project with the tenants of Brisbane Common Ground to work together to determine the uses for the common spaces in the building. This building cooperation was just the first of many tenant projects that CGQ has instigated since starting Brisbane Common Ground.
In October, Common Ground Queensland and Micah Projects held a Partnerships breakfast with speaker Becky Kanis and Minister Tim Mander.
81% of our formerly homeless tenants remained in their tenancy for more than 12 months.
Common Ground Queensland implemented and made available free Wi-Fi services to tenants of Brisbane Common Ground.
Common Ground Queensland received a substantial grant from the Gaming Machine Community Benefit Fund to commence the “Our Common Spaces” project which saw the transformation of the buildings backyard and other common areas, including the creation of a gym, in 2015
Common Ground Queensland secured a BCC Suburban Crime Prevention Grant to install a mosaic sculpture in the Cross-block Link in partnership with TAFE Brisbane Queensland and also received a SUEZ Community Grant to purchase additional fitness and training aides for the on-site gym.
Common Ground Queensland completed the backyard revitalisation and renovation which was officially opened that August. The on-site gym opened its doors in November with movement sessions made available to tenants at no cost thanks to the volunteer work of exercise physiologist, Tim Douge.
Common Ground Queensland leveraged the growing interest in Brisbane Common Ground’s Function Rooms to create employment and training opportunities for tenants and created tenant employment positions within the Common Ground Queensland Maintenance team.
Common Ground Queensland secured a grant from the Queensland Community Foundation to develop a supportive housing model for families.
Common Ground Queensland completed the installation of the ‘Colour, Community & Hope’ mosaic – unveiled September.
The Department of Housing and Public Works publicly released the Brisbane Common Ground Evaluation: Final Report – the report details the findings of the research undertaken by the University of Queensland’s Institute of Social Science Research to examine whether the Brisbane Common Ground initiative has been successful in assisting tenants to maintain secure housing and improve health, wellbeing, social and economic outcomes. Read it here.
Published a joint venture research paper: Families Caught in the Homelessness and Child Protection Cycle – A Supportive Housing Model for Keeping Families Together. We conducted this research project in partnership with Micah Projects Limited (MPL), the Department of Housing and Public Works and the Department of Child Safety. The project also included broad engagement with local homelessness and family service providers with funding provided by the Queensland Community Foundation.
Common Ground Queensland developed a 3 Year Strategic Plan.
Completed the ‘Odd Fish’ mosaic project and installed panels in the backyard.
Common Ground Queensland hosted an afternoon tea with Rosanne Haggerty, the President and CEO of US-based Community Solutions during her Brisbane visit to support the launch of the 500 Lives, 500 Homes initiative; ‘Housing First Roadmap to Ending Homelessness’.
Griffith University completed a research study that investigated the impact of group fitness intervention on wellbeing of individuals who have experienced homelessness or disadvantage – the study found that the on-site gym exercise initiative was effective in improving participants’ physical, psychological and social wellbeing.
Expanded tenant employment opportunities within the Maintenance Team.
Renewed collaborative agreement with QPAC – invited to fundraise at QPAC’s Spirit of Christmas concerts.
Hope St Café and Inclusive Health Clinic opened for business.
Common Ground Queensland launched the BCG App, enabling tenants to access a range of online functions, provide feedback and stay up to date with building news at the touch of a button.
For the second year in a row, CGQ were invited by QPAC to collect donations for QPAC’s Spirit of Christmas concerts. Our volunteers were decked out with tinsel and reindeer headpieces and did a fantastic job, with the generous donations of concert goers totaling an amazing $8,415.
Major review and refinement of Risk Management Framework and Business Continuity Management System.
Common Ground Queensland commenced discussion with the Department of Housing and Public Works on the development of a Supportive Housing for Families initiative.
Undertook building upgrades to improve tenant amenity – upgrades included the installation of marine carpet to the residential corridors and awnings to the western side of the building to reduce the impact of the afternoon sun to tenants’ units and new computers were also purchased for the Training Room.
We completed our 5th year of tenant surveys. The results show that tenants hold a high regard for the building and the services provided at Brisbane Common Ground. 84% of tenants who responded to the survey said they “felt comfortable/settled in their home”. The average length of stay for our formerly homeless tenants was 50 months as of 30 June 2019.
Common Ground Queensland dealt with the oncoming pandemic, COVID19, increasing cleaning rounds, encouraging PPE usage and quarantines. The COVID19 pandemic highlighted the importance of having a safe home, and further supported the idea that housing is a human right. The pandemic increased visibility of the number of individuals and families in our community who do not have safe and permanent housing and highlighted the increased vulnerability faced by those who are experiencing homelessness.
The COVID19 supplement provided a welcome and much needed increase in the level of benefits paid to those who are unable to work. At 30 June we reported zero rent arrears, a testament to the outcomes possible when people are provided with a more adequate level of income.
CGQ began its Supportive Housing for Families (SH4F) pilot program in June of 2020.
Common Ground Queensland was enlisted to help house refugee and asylum seekers released from a motel in Kangaroo Point via off-shore detention, beginning our Community Supportive Housing program with the help of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) and Communify.
Common Ground Queensland celebrated the completion of our first year of the SH4F project, and the renewal of ongoing funding for this project from the Department of Community, Housing and Digital Economy.
The BCG Gym was reopened after it was closed due to the COVID19 pandemic.
In February, CGQ was impacted by the Brisbane flooding event. Luckily the impact was minimal and we were able to continue supporting our tenants through the worst of the event. On the 12 July CGQ celebrated 10 years of Brisbane Common Ground and serving the local community. CGQ hosted a morning tea for our supporters to celebrate our 10 year anniversary, along with the Minister for Communities and Housing, Minister for Digital Economy and Minister for the Arts, Leeanne Enoch MP. We also held a Tenant dinner to celebrate 10 years with our tenants.
CGQ received a grant from the Nudgee Trust to be able to continue housing refugees in our Community Support Housing program. CGQ launched Common Ground Gold Coast (CGGC), an initiative to bring supportive housing to the Gold Coast.
CGQ held a fundraising event to raise funds to go towards expanding our services. We thank our partners and supporters for their generosity. At the event, CGQ also launched the Billy William Fund, a fund designed to increase our impact and expand our programs to end homelessness. This fund was developed by one of CGQ’s Board Directors, Peter Pearce, in loving memory of his brother Billy, who struggled with homelessness.
Sonya Keep, who had been the CEO of CGQ for its first 10 years of operations, moved on to new adventures at the end of this year. We thank her for all her hard work and all that she accomplished with CGQ. She was integral to CGQ’s success over the past ten years, and we wish her well in her future endeavours. We welcomed Sue Pope who took over the role of CEO at the end of 2022.
Board & Staff Members
Meet the Common Ground team and hear their stories of how they came to work with Common Ground.
We are so proud to have such a large team of caring people working within our organisation and cannot wait for you to find out more about them. See their individual bios by clicking the button below.