Shelter Housing Action Cairns was established in 1987, after a need was clearly identified during the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless Housing Conference held in Cairns.
From humble beginnings, working out of an upstairs bedroom of the Cairns Neighbourhood Centre , SHAC is now amongst the largest providers of supported crisis accommodation to families within Queensland.
Over time, SHAC has continued to consolidate and grow their property portfolio to include Same House Different Landlord (SHDL) from the Department of Housing in addition to their crisis accommodation (CAP) properties. The SHDL program allowed SHAC to use public housing properties as transitional accommodation for its tenants.
In response to a sharp increase in housing rental prices during the late 1990's and subsequent financial stress experienced by many low income earners, SHAC recognised the overwhelming need to provide access to financial support services for families. In doing so, the intention was to increase the 'affordability' and future 'sustainability' of housing whilst providing access to safe affordable financial products as an alternative to 'expensive' fringe credit products. The development of our No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) providing access to small amounts of credit to eligible low income earners (for the purchase of essential household items and services) marked the beginning of SHAC's now broader Microfinance Program.
Acknowledging the need for a range of appropriate financial services to meet a variety of financial needs, SHAC continued to build upon our relationship with Good Shepherd Youth & Family Service (with whom we had partnered to provide NILS) and began delivery of the StepUp (low interest loan) & AddsUP (matched savings) programs with the support of a third partner in the National Australia Bank. Rent In Advance and Financial Health Checks are now also available to support SHAC tenants to build money management skills and reduce financial vulnerability.
SHAC's commitment to reducing family homelessness and it's underpinning financial hardship has seen the organisation take on a number of roles to;Support the development of an additional ten No Interest Loan Schemes in collaboration with various community based organisations across the Far North.Raise awareness of the impact of Financial Exclusion and specifically as it relates to homelessness.
Partner with Mission Australia's Street to Home Team in delivering Specialist Financial Support to chronically homeless families and individuals within Cairns.
Advocate for homeless families through various Local, State & National networks & Forums such as QShelter, QCOSS, Australian Financial Inclusion Network and Homelessness Community Action Plan ( HCAP) groups.