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Shelter turns one

06 Nov 2019

Shelter turns one Image

A Melbourne first pop-up shelter for homeless women, Lake House, turned one last month with the release of a report on the statistics of care.

51 women have been housed at the former aged care facility and the lease has been extended for another year. Of the women housed, 36 per cent secured public or community housing, 8 per cent private rentals, 33 per cent returned to family or are living with friends and 8 per cent moved interstate or overseas.

Private sector and local government donated $300,000 worth of professional services and goods for set-up, site preparation, building works, garden, fit-out and furnishings.

According to the YWCA, which runs Lake House in South Melbourne, the residents have shared their stories in a documentary on the experiment.

Melbourne is an empathetic city and people love to hear about the trials and tribulations of those forced to sleep rough.

But the women are now suffering from media fatigue and the YWCA is protecting them from further intrusion.

Despite the success of the “pop-up” model at the Lake House, a spokeswoman for the YWCA said there was still a lack of safe, affordable housing options for women in the area.

“YWCA currently experiences a 90 per cent turn away rate to women - that is 9/10 women that we cannot provide any accommodation,” national housing operations manager Louise Daniel said.  

Women over 50 are the fastest growing group of people experiencing housing instability in Australia – often as a result of pay inequity, little to no superannuation or savings, divorce, domestic and family violence and time taken as unpaid carers.

Adequate supply of social housing and affordable housing remains an enduring issue across Australia. Currently there are more than 40,000 applicants for social housing on the Victorian Housing Register alone.

Lake House has been able to provide short-term, crisis and transitional accommodation for up to 30 women at a time, while the building awaits redevelopment approval.

YWCA Housing became the lessee and tenancy provider. It also supports those being housed and connects them to additional community services. YWCA was charged $1 a year for use of the property. Building outgoings are recovered via below-market rent paid by the women as sub-tenants.

A detailed strategy for the closure of the pop-up is part of the original lease agreement. All those housed are to be transitioned by YWCA into public or community housing, private rental or supported to return to family or friends.

The furniture and chattels will be redeployed to other housing projects to support more women.

 

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