An innovative housing support service for older women who are at risk of experiencing homelessness has been launched on Thursday (8 August).
YWCA Canberra’s Next Door service, funded by a grant of $1.9 million from the ACT Government, will work with women aged 50 and over to find and maintain affordable appropriate and safe homes.
Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Canberra, Frances Crimmins said older women were the fastest growing cohort of people experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness.
“Following a life-time of work and caring responsibilities, often characterised by inequalities around wages and superannuation compared to their male counterparts, many older women don’t have financial security,” she said.
“All it takes is one or two incidents such as a partner passing away, poor health, or a breakdown of family relationships and these women are left in a very volatile position – through no fault of their own.”
Through Next Door the YWCA Canberra housing team will work with older women to help overcome challenges such as mental and physical ill-health, relationship breakdowns, unemployment, or insecure work.
The service will identify whether they are eligible for social, community, affordable or private rental properties and assist with their application.
It will organise aged care and disability support options to maintain independence and age in place options.
It will also explore home-share options for women that own their home, and connect women with specialist community or government services with health, wellbeing, tenancy, legal and financial expertise.
Ms Crimmins said the goal was to nurture and empower older women to overcome the challenges, trauma and inequality they had experienced in their lives and build their resilience, independence and wellbeing.
“Our housing team takes a person-centred approach with our clients which means they are informed, in control and make their own decisions about their future,” she said.
“We listen to our clients, we think together, we coach rather than direct, we share ideas, and we seek feedback.”
Ms Crimmins and Minister for Housing and Minister for Women, Yvette Berry officially launched the service at YWCA House with key government, community, philanthropic and corporate sector stakeholders.
YWCA Canberra is a feminist not-for-profit organisation that has provided housing support to women and the broader Canberra community for more than 60 years.