It’s a sobering reality and it’s happening right here in Canberra: hundreds of women will sleep in a car, at a crowded shelter or on a friend’s couch tonight because they’re homeless or living in housing stress.
But Capital Airport Group, through Denman Prospect, is doing everything it can to ensure a more stable future for the capital’s homeless, especially women.
Since the sale of the very first block of land at Denman Prospect, Capital Airport Group has contributed 0.1 per cent of the sale price of every block to Homes for Homes, a national social enterprise whose aim is to increase the supply of social and affordable housing.
And on Friday 2 August , something tangible and truly wonderful happened. The keys to a home were handed over.
A three-bedroom home in Nicholls was purchased by Havelock Housing, a local affordable, social and disability housing specialist, who applied for and was granted $200,000 in funding from Homes for Homes.
The home will be managed by Havelock Housing and will mean complete stability for the two women, aged 55+, who are chosen to live there.
Homes for Homes spokesperson Louise Gray said a long-term tenancy reduces an incredible amount of stress and pressure for homeless and disadvantaged people.
“The tenants now have a long term, safe and secure home” Ms Gray said.
“They don’t need to be worried about – what if my rent goes up? What if i need to move? What if the landlord sells? None of that is going to be a problem for them.”
Women aged 55 and over are the fastest-growing group at risk of homelessness in Australia. They’re more likely to have had lower-paying jobs during their lives, Ms Gray said, and to have spent a number of years caring for children or other relatives and thus not earning an income which has also impacted their ability to accumulate super.
“In situations where there has been a relationship breakdown, that may mean they’re no longer living in the family home or they’ve had to sell the family home.
“If women have rented – that’s probably been fine while they’re earning a wage but once that stops and retirement age looms, the savings run out really quickly and they don’t have that nest egg behind them.”
Homes for Homes was inspired by a similar initiative in the US and works with property developers across Australia to help address the gap in social and affordable housing. The gap between the number of people needing homes and the number of affordable houses available in Australia is estimated to grow to 1 million by 2036.
But Ms Gray said the home at Nicholls was just the beginning of the work Homes for Homes was planning in the ACT. Up to $300,000 will be disbursed early next year which means more social and affordable homes would become available for those in need.
“And the beauty of Homes for Homes is that every cent contributed by Capital Airport Group, through land sales at Denman Prospect, stays in the ACT,” she said.
“By early next year, half a million dollars will go into the territory to fund social and affordable housing that just wouldn’t have existed before.
“The impact that Capital Airport Group and the residents of Denman Prospect are making is super tangible and really substantial.”
Capital Airport Group managing director Stephen Byron said “We have always felt strongly about giving back to the Canberra community, and we wanted others to have that opportunity and help with the affordable housing gap in the ACT. Together we can make a real difference in our community.”