Taking the initiative on women’s housing  

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Women’s Property Initiatives provides new beginnings for women facing homelessness by providing affordable, long-term homes. We believe everyone has the right to a safe and secure home and that women face the greatest barriers to being able to afford one.

Only six per cent of properties in the private rental market are affordable for people on low incomes, of which a disproportionately large number are women. Women have less access to employment, as carers they often have greater limits on their ability to work, and they earn less than men.

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Only six per cent of properties in the private rental market are affordable for people on low incomes, of which a disproportionately large number are women.

Women’s Property Initiatives currently houses more than 200 women and children across Melbourne, enabling them to rebuild their lives. Rents are no more than 30 per cent of household income and give women the financial capacity to do more than just exist. Through this, we have seen women transform. Many return to work or study, or focus on parenting children who have suffered trauma through the instability of their living situation. They can live with dignity and contribute to their communities.

Many of these women have experienced family violence or are migrants fleeing conflict in their country of origin. Some are older women who have worked their whole lives but can’t afford market rents. Others, simply through circumstance, find themselves living with relatives or on a friend’s couch. Crisis services and short-term housing are critical in sheltering vulnerable women, but often there is no next step towards a stable future. WPI offers this next step.

However, providing long-term homes for women requires capital, in an environment where philanthropic and government funding is increasingly hard to source. That’s why WPI is very focused on finding innovative ways to expand its housing stock and social impact.

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That’s why WPI is very focused on finding innovative ways to expand its housing stock and social impact.

In 2015, we founded a social enterprise, Property Initiatives Real Estate, to create an income stream that will help provide more homes for vulnerable women. All company profits are returned to WPI to build or acquire housing. Over time, this will enable us to house many more women.

Property Initiatives offers ethical and high quality property management and, in less than two years, we have built a rent roll of 120 properties. Landlords should not see our agency as a compromise. Even though it exists to fund more affordable homes for women and children, the point is to make a profit by delivering property investors the best possible return. However, by simply listing a property with us, they can make their property management fees count and generate positive social impact. It is profit for purpose.

From a start-up position, Property Initiatives is almost at the point of returning a profit to WPI – a real milestone for the business. To achieve this, and because we are so confident people will be satisfied with our service, we are offering three months of free property management for a limited time. Please contact us if you are interested.

We are passionate about the role social enterprise can play in improving communities and addressing social problems; in this case, women’s access to secure and affordable housing. Commercially viable businesses that provide employment and exist to benefit the community, rather than shareholders and owners, are a win-win for society.

Jeanette Large is Chief Executive Officer at Women’s Property Initiatives 
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