Older Women’s Housing

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/6″ offset=”vc_col-lg-1/5 vc_col-md-1/5 vc_col-xs-1/5″][us_image image=”81872″ size=”thumbnail” align=”left” style=”circle” has_ratio=”1″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/12″ offset=”vc_col-lg-4/5 vc_col-md-4/5 vc_col-xs-4/5″][vc_column_text]By Bev Jordan[/vc_column_text][us_post_date][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Accommodation in Kenthurst for older women at risk of homelessness is a step closer to becoming a reality thanks to years of planning, collaboration and determination by a small group of local residents.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is set to be signed off by Uniting, kickstarting a partnership with Wesley Community Housing (part of Wesley Mission) and a local community steering committee to provide a safe haven for older women without a roof over their heads.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics there were more than 6,400 homeless people aged 55 and over in NSW on census night in 2016, Of those, 2,186 were women — a rise of 48 per cent. When it came to women aged 65 to 74, the increase was 78 per cent.

The Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG) says the figures are just the tip of the iceberg.

The move to establish interim housing started nearly five years ago when members of Kenthurst Uniting Church started investigating how to provide accommodation for the homeless spearheaded by two members of the congregation, James Visione and Dennis van Someren.

In 2020 the discussion focused on the feasibility of converting the unused Sunday school rooms at the Jones Rd church into transitional short-term accommodation for homeless women over the age of 55 to provide women with housing security and time to recover and get back on track.

For many older women, losing a partner, losing a job and the financial implications of living as a solo person places them in a vulnerable position.

President of Soroptimist International The Hills Cathy Tracey, James Visione, Dennis van Somerenand and SI Past President Jacqui McLachlan

After months of talks with supportive members of the Parramatta/Nepean Presbytery of the Uniting Church and housing support networks, including Women’s Community Shelters, a public forum was organised by the Kenthurst Uniting church to discuss the issue with local residents, especially those living in the adjacent Kentgrove Retirement Village.

Dennis said that as converting part of the church building was considered too costly at this stage Uniting offered a local property they owned for use as transitional housing for at least four older women.

“Wesley Mission Housing came on board with the blessing of the Parramatta/Nepean Presbytery to manage the property and provide older women in danger of homelessness with appropriate accommodation,” said Dennis.

“Our project group has already gained wide community support and offers of donations.”

Dennis, a member of the Rotary Club of Kenthurst, said the project had the support of service groups such as local Rotary clubs, Men’s Shed and the women’s service group Soroptimist International – The Hills which organised a well-attended forum at Norwest on older women and homelessness in March 2020.

At the forum Bev Baker from The Older Women’s Network said the face of homelessness had been changing in Australia.

“As the Older women’s network, we know that older women over the age of 55 are one paycheck away from not being able to pay their rent. “These are women who have worked all their lives, they retire with less super, due to COVID women in low paid work have lost their jobs. Priority housing is not given to women until they are over the age of 80 but the grim reality is there is not enough housing stock.”

WHAT: Fundraising evening Thursday May 4th 6pm to 8.30pm

WHO: Special guest NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb APM. The first female to hold the position in almost 160 years. Her focuses include victims of crime – especially those affected by child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence as well as on community engagement.

WHY: All funds raised on the night will go to support transitional housing for older women as well as DV support programs in the Hills.

WHERE: Rydges Norwest, Columbia Court, Norwest.

COST: Tickets: $60 (includes canapés and drinks). To purchase go to[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]