Disused aged care facility offers solution for homeless women

A disused aged care facility in Sydney’s north-west is being repurposed to provide safe housing for older women in an innovative community housing initiative.

The project had its roots in 2018 when Twilight Aged Care approached Women’s Community Shelters (WCS) with an offer to use their vacant Beecroft rent-free as transitional housing for two years.

WCS swung into action with a full analysis, an exploration of partnerships – including community housing provider Link Housing – and the development of a service model.

The facility has now been transformed into safe and secure accommodation for 20 women, who will be able to live there for two years while they find permanent housing.

The new residents will include 12-14 from the NSW Social Housing waitlist and 6-8 from the WCS network.

It’s now hoped the model will offer a blueprint for other housing providers that might be looking for creative solutions to Sydney’s housing and homelessness crisis.

Women’s Community Shelters CEO Annabelle Daniel says women over 55 are one of the most at-risk groups for homelessness in Australia.

She says making use of empty or under-utilised properties which have been ‘hiding in plain sight’ is one way of responding to the problem.

“We’ve known for over a decade that older women are becoming homeless at increasing rates. This partnership represents definitive action to do something to help solve the problem,” she said.

“We are delighted to be partnering with so many others to bring Beecroft House to life, and to be providing at least two years accommodation with guaranteed housing pathways for every woman who lives there.”

The properties and tenancies will be organised by community housing provider Link Housing, which continues to explore options to increase housing.

“The use of properties is just one model that we know can work. We hope that the successful establishment of Beecroft House will encourage others to come forward to create and be part of these innovative housing solutions,” Link Housing CEO Andrew McAnulty said.

WCS currently has six shelters for vulnerable women in Manly, Hornsby, Great Lakes, the Hills, Penrith and Botany. Link Housing manages close to 4,000 homes accommodating about 6,000 people across Sydney.

This article was originally published on www.governmentnews.com.au on 4/8/19 by Judy Skatssoon.