The Mercy Foundation helps end homelessness by funding initiatives that end or prevent homelessness particularly where single women or women with children are concerned. Congratulations to the following organisations that were awarded a Grant to End Homelessness for 2022:
St Kilda Gatehouse: Step Up program for women experiencing chronic homelessness
The Step Up program will assist women experiencing chronic homelessness with direct referrals to specialised housing, health and legal supports ensuring they have the best chance of stepping up into safe and secure housing. Step Up will provide the support and advocacy a woman needs to access safe housing and then help her maintain that housing.
Brigid Justice: Legal assistance fund to protect women leaving abuse from homelessness
This initiative will address the difficulties faced by women leaving abusive partners, to access housing and secure a fair share of joint property and resources. Women leaving abusive partners are at a high risk of homelessness, with domestic violence the main cause of homelessness for women and children in Australia.
The fund will finance legal fees, which will expedite property settlement and housing matters. Once a woman receives her property settlement, the fees will be repaid into the fund, and this money will be used to pay the legal fees of future applicants. With access to financial resources from the settlement, the risk of becoming homeless is greatly reduced.
Action on Housing Older Women: Share Housing for Older Women (SHOW) Project
This project will assist women over 55 years in need of housing to secure private shared rental accommodation. A project worker will provide case work and community education to older women who register interest in shared housing. This pilot project will decrease the risk of homelessness and increase social inclusion for older women participating in the program. It has potential to provide a replicable model for share housing for older women in other communities across Australia.
Lighthouse Foundation: Early and Forced Marriage Program
A grant to the Lighthouse Foundation will help establish a second safe house for women and girls escaping a forced marriage. The program complements their Young Women’s Freedom Program, providing accommodation and wrap around support for young women impacted by forced marriage.
This project will provide accommodation and support for young women ready to move on to more independent living, freeing up space for more survivors to join the program. The young women will continue to be supported as they recover from trauma and will determine when they are ready to leave the program.
Bridge for Asylum Seekers: Safe Homes for People Seeking Asylum
A major barrier to housing for people seeking asylum is raising the money needed for a rental bond. People seeking asylum are ineligible for all rental bond loan schemes. This pilot project will enable single women and women with children to enter into private rental agreements, often for the first time in Australia. Being able to pay for a bond and rent-in-advance is the first step to achieving longer term stability and sustainable tenancy.
National Homeless Collective’s ‘Sisters in Safe Housing’ project is helping to rehouse women escaping domestic violence situations and women experiencing chronic homelessness. The project provides funds for the payment of bonds and rent-in-advance, given as a loan. The loan is repaid at a rate that is affordable to the recipient, meaning more women can be assisted by the program. So far, 28 families have been rehoused by this program.
CatholicCare Wilcannia Forbes ‘My Time’ project is supporting women aged over 50 years at risk of or experiencing homelessness. The project has helped 23 women to find safe, long term housing. According to the project manager,
‘Women experience a powerful sense of shame to find themselves without a home or the means to acquire employment. The impacts of domestic violence, poor health and mental health issues can create fear of accessing the support system. Aboriginal women in this age group are less likely to reach out for support as a result of cultural beliefs, fear and intergenerational impacts that will affect their children and grandchildren.’
BaptCare Camberwell ‘Houses of Hope for women seeking asylum’ is providing housing and support for two women with young children seeking asylum, who were in desperate need of accommodation. Baptcare caseworkers and volunteers have helped them to access local services such as health care, early learning and childcare, English language and employment support, and food and emergency aid. The success of this project has led other churches to partner with Baptcare to sponsor their own House of Hope.
“For people seeking asylum in Australia today there are relatively few welfare ‘safety net’ provisions. The risk of homelessness is extremely high, especially when there are young children in single parent families with no income. Through this project, Mercy Foundation has been able to collaborate in securing a roof over the heads of these women and young children and helped create a tangible pathway to future independence.”