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Women's Property Initiatives creating new beginnings

Women’s Property Initiatives (WPI) is a not-for-profit, community housing provider, creating new beginnings for women and children at risk of homelessness with permanent and affordable homes. WPI currently provides homes for more than 230 women and children around Melbourne. 

More than 400,000 women over the age of 45 are currently at risk of homelessness in Australia. Many of these women have worked their whole lives and cared for others but have found themselves in insecure housing. This trend has inspired WPI to look for sustainable and scalable solutions to this problem. 

Poverty and ageing collide for many women, more than half a million older Australian women are living in long-term income poverty. More than half of single women over 50, earn the minimum wage or less which does not cover the costs of even the most basic housing. 

The pandemic has worsened the circumstances of the many older women in casual employment and who are over-represented in lowest paying jobs.

WPI is well advanced on construction of four-home architect designed homes for the pilot of its Older Women’s Housing Project. The project is designed to assist women with some savings (usually a small superannuation payout). This makes them ineligible for social housing, yet they don’t have the financial capacity to access a mortgage or own a home on their own. 

These women, currently locked into the private rental market and depleting their savings, can invest in a secure, affordable, appropriate home for life (or for as long as they choose), and preserve their original capital. As an alternative to private rental it provides security of tenure at an affordable rate and maintains the value of their invested assets.

“This is a preventative approach where women avoid the depletion of their savings and will not have to contend with unstable and often highly inappropriate housing in the private rental market. They will pay an income-based rent and will not become homeless or need more costly social housing in the future,” said Jeanette Large. CEO, WPI

“They can access a home that is high-quality and accessible, allowing them to age in place. It’s not a solution for all women – many do not have the savings to invest – but innovative solutions are needed to stem the rising tide of older women’s homelessness.”

The four homes are due to be completed by the end of 2021. After evaluation WPI hopes this will become a valuable and replicable model for preventing older women’s homelessness. 

Find out more Women’s Property Initiatives

This organisation is supported by trusts managed by Equity Trustees.