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More housing for family violence survivors in Dandenong

Family violence support service, Wayss, has added 16 new properties to its housing stock available for women and children escaping the horrors of family violence.

The properties are in addition to 14 properties Wayss secured under the DHHS funded head-lease program in 2019.

Wayss Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Thomas, says head-leasing, where a private rental property is rented from a landlord by a third party and
then sub-let to the tenant, is a great opportunity for Wayss to directly access private rental stock in the local community for families in need.

‘Stable housing is the first step in empowering a family violence victim survivor to take control of their life and recover. Once the family has secure accommodation, we can then coordinate specialist support services to help the woman and her children rebuild their lives,’  Ms Thomas says.

‘In just over 12 months, we’ve increased our housing stock to 30 head-lease properties under our management and that will result in some incredibly positive outcomes for families living in our local community. That’s 30 families that now have the chance to build a positive rental history to support future tenancy applications – it’s access to a critical first step that they may not have been able to take without this program.’

Before linking the family with their new home, Wayss conducts a full safety and risk assessment of the property and works closely with local real estate agents to ensure the right property for the right family. When they move in, the tenant pays only 33 per cent of the rent for the first six months, then 66 per cent for the remainder of the 12-month tenancy. The goal is for the family to then take over the lease and maintain the tenancy. The subsidised rent is a particular advantage when a woman is escaping a financially abusive relationship and needs time to get on top of their finances.

Ms Thomas says Wayss wholeheartedly supports the continued development of the head-lease model across Victoria.

‘Head-leasing is an extension of the housing first model which focuses on getting people housed in safe, secure accommodation and then supporting them to stay housed by access to dedicated case-management. Safe, secure housing is essential to support families to plan pathways for living their best life,’ Ms Thomas says.

Wayss project

Built for good

Ten short-term affordable homes have been built in Cardinia Shire to accommodate women and children for up to two years, who have experienced family violence and are faced with homelessness.

Funded by the Peter and Lyndy White Foundation, the social housing initiative, ‘Built for good‘ is a standout partnership and collaboration between Council, philanthropists, business and local community organisations, and aims to pave the way for stable and secure housing in the area.

The 10 unit housing complex with on-site office, has been purpose built on Council land by local builders Sienna Homes, to respond to the social problems of family violence and the resulting homelessness that is experienced.

The need for social housing across the state has dramatically increased over the last two years, and homelessness is a hidden and significant issue impacting the Cardinia Shire community.

More than 220 people are experiencing homelessness across Cardinia Shire; this has grown by 53% from 2011 to 2016. Each day, on average, the Pakenham Police refer two women to Wayss because of incidents of family violence. Of the people seeking support for social housing in Cardinia Shire, 24.2% is because of family violence, and 92% of all presentations are women.

Managed by local community service organisation Wayss, the housing complex has a mix of single and double storey units, comprising of two, three and four bedrooms. At any one time the complete 26 bedrooms will both ensure women and their children will be safely housed, and supported with wrap-around services provided by Windermere and Wayss, to help them rebuild their lives.

“There is no doubt the ‘Built for Good’ initiative, is a flagship project that can be replicated in other areas of need across Australia,” said Wayss CEO Elizabeth Thomas.