A move to open up accommodation in Kenthurst for older women at risk of homelessness is another step closer with the Kenthurst Community Transitional Housing project launched on the Wesley Mission’s website.
Wesley Community Housing (part of Wesley Mission) and a local community steering committee are working together to provide a safe haven for women over 55 without a roof over their heads. Wesley Mission Housing will manage the property.
The housing project has won the support of several local service groups including Kenthurst Rotary Club, Galston branch of the Country Women’s Association and The Hills branch of Soroptimists International which have given a financial commitment.
Members of the former Kenthurst Uniting Church began looking at options to provide accommodation to people who were homeless around five years ago,
At one point members looked at the feasibility of converting unused rooms at the Jones Rd church into transitional short-term accommodation but Parramatta/Nepean Presbytery of the Uniting Church viewed the conversion of the church building as too costly and Uniting offered another building instead.
Several years of talks between Uniting and Wesley Mission have now had a positive result. James Visione and Dennis van Someren who led the campaign thanked all the groups and individuals who had attended the public The story continue on page 15 meeting, heard the talks and committed their support.
They told the Hills to Hawkesbury Community News: “A safe and comfortable home is a basic need we all share. We want the Kenthurst project to provide this security to at least a few of the growing number of older women experiencing homelessness.
“The project may become an example of what can be done, even by a small but determined group with community support, a possible pilot for similar projects elsewhere. It has taken a long time to get off the ground but we never lost hope. We were continually encouraged by our faith and the goodwill and support of so many individuals and community groups.”
Terese Wilson from Kenthurst Rotary said: “Kenthurst Rotary Club is very supportive of this. We should be supporting older people.”
Ann Waters from Galston CWA ( Country Women’s Association) said her branch had donated to the project because they believed it was needed. “Our members felt as women that it is very important to have a safe place in the area for women.”
Jacqui McLachlan from Soroptimists International of the Hills said: “We have been supporting this project for two years. Social and affordable housing is one of our key focuses this year and we have made a financial commitment to support this project.”
The SI group will be holding a Hidden Homeless Forum in October to discuss the issue homelessness in the area.
ABS Statics from the 2021 census highlighted by Mission Australia show:
• 1 in 7 people experiencing homelessness are over the age of 55.
• There are over 122,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night.
In NSW the February 2023 street count revealed 1,623 people sleeping rough – a 34 per cent increase compared to 2022.
Street counts took place between 2 February and 27 February 2023, in more than 350 towns and suburbs in 76 local government areas (LGA) across NSW.
The Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG) estimates there are 405,000 older women at risk of homelessness in Australia.
Women experience homelessness later in life due to a number of factors including: rising housing costs, eviction, job loss, financial instability, the end of a relationship, sudden illness and disability, domestic violence or elder abuse or a combination of these factors. Limited superannuation is also a problem.
According to HAAG Many older women are “hidden” and do not present at homelessness services. They may be couch surfing, pet sitting, or travelling in vans.
Wesley Mission webpage states: “Our Wesley Community Housing team has joined with the Kenthurst community to address the growing need for safe, stable and affordable housing for older women.
“Known as the Kenthurst Community Transitional Housing project, together, we’re turning a three-bedroom cottage into a safe, stable and affordable place for older women to call home. But we need your support to make this home a reality.”
Help older women leave homelessness behind for good | Wesley Mission https://www.wesleymission. org.au/get-involved/donate/help-olderwomen-leave-homelessness-behind-forgood/