Agape Outreach, a community organisation in Tweed Heads, applied for a Social Justice Small Grant for the Women in Crisis Accommodation Sessions Project, consisting of monthly accommodation sessions for senior women, to learn the legalities and affordability of share accommodation. This project targeted elderly and senior women who were experiencing homelessness or on the verge of homelessness as a result of unaffordable rents.
The sessions enabled women to meet other women in similar circumstances. Guest speakers came from Housing, Centrelink and other organisations, Agape staff and volunteers.
The need to support elderly women to navigate the housing shortage crisis was made evident at an event hosted by Agape more than 12 months ago. They expected that this project would help senior women move into safe housing and they would provide case management and ongoing support as needed.
105 women attended the sessions over 12 months. Of these, 12 women moved into share housing. Although these numbers were less than anticipated, Agape noted there was a defining factor of shame, making senior women needing assistance with housing reluctant to come forward. Case Managers devoted their efforts to addressing this problem.
In addition to the 12 women now in share housing, the project has helped senior women to build relationships and new friendships. Agape believe more women will come forward for assistance to find share housing as their situation becomes more drastic.
The Agape team are keen to continue the program, and are already receiving requests for future sessions. Agape is currently looking for a facilitator for the program.
Agape also noted that their volunteer base is declining, due to the increasing cost of living and rental increases which are forcing people back into the workforce. There is a shortage of volunteers universally which is having an impact on this Program.
“As the need continues to grow in our region it is so important that this program continues. Staff and volunteers are trained and have information available so it is hopeful that this can occur soon. Thank you to Mercy Foundation for this grant funding. Twelve vulnerable, elderly women have found housing due to your generosity. In our current climate it livens our soul to have belief that programs and commitment such as this does make a difference in peoples’ lives.”
- Theresa, Program Manager