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A Women's Housing Limited property

Women’s Housing Limited: making a difference for women at risk of homelessness

May 3, 2024
April 29, 2024

Rising costs of living and a rental crisis have contributed to a growing need for affordable housing, and Bank Australia’s impact lending partner Women’s Housing Limited is working to improve access to affordable, secure homes.

For the 31% of people in Australia who rent their home, keeping on top of household bills can be tough, particularly for the 3.3 million people who earn a low income. In fact, a nationwide study found 42% of low-income renter households are experiencing financial stress, and women and their children are a significant group in need of affordable housing.

Women’s Housing Limited (WHL) has been building and connecting tenants with affordable homes since 1997, and Operations Manager Lindy Parker has overseen this work for 17 years, noting a growing need for affordable homes since the pandemic.

 “Our aim has always been to bridge the gap between homelessness services and the private market.  Back when we started our market was women transitioning from prison, who needed something in between a temporary rooming house and a private rental. But now, we have tenants from all walks of life coming to us,” said Lindy.

WHL currently owns 190 homes and manages a further 292 Government owned homes across Victoria, which have become homes for people experiencing vulnerability and financial stress. This can be caused by poor physical or mental health, loss of employment, lack of savings or superannuation, and family violence.

“The past 3 years have been the perfect storm for creating vulnerability, especially for women and children. Financial stress and social isolation during the pandemic followed by a crowded and unaffordable rental market mean there’s a growing demand for services like ours,” said Lindy.  

A small outdoor garden on the balcony of a Women's Housing Limited property

A secure home and community connection

Lindy says one of the greatest benefits she sees for tenants living in WHL’s rental properties is the connections they form with each other.  

“Many women and families come to us feeling that they’re to blame for their circumstances, but then they meet others who can empathise and have had similar experiences. They realise it’s not their fault, and that’s crucial to rebuilding their lives,” Lindy said.

WHL ensures the homes they build and acquire are close to important amenities, including schools, public transports, parks and supermarkets. This makes the transition smoother for their tenants when they move into new homes, which is often in a different area from where they previously lived. This is especially important for tenants moving in with their children and pets. 

The view from the balcony of a Women's Housing Limited propertyt

Creating secure, affordable homes

WHL’s Chief Financial Officer Chris Carlier says a grant from the Victorian Government’s Big Housing Build coupled with a loan from Bank Australia will make it possible for WHL to build and acquire 316 new homes between 2023 and 2025.

“We’ve been fortunate to experience strong support from the Victorian Government and a relationship with Bank Australia’s lending team that has helped us succeed. From how the impact lending team constructed our loan facility to the regular check-ins we have, we feel we’re supported every steps of the way,” said Chris.

The Big Housing Build is the largest social and affordable housing program in Victoria’s history. Through a $5 billion investment, this program will increase stock of much-needed social housing by 10%. Find out how Bank Australia is supporting housing associations by reading about our work in the affordable and accessible housing sector.  

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