Women & Children First is a not for profit, community based service on the northern beaches and lower north shore supporting women and vulnerable families, including women and children escaping domestic and family violence.
We are proud to offer an unprecedented gold standard of care to the women and mothers who need our help. We offer a comprehensive, continuous care program for at least a two-year commitment to every woman and child – unparalleled in the nation. Because we know this is the minimum amount of time It takes to help a woman move forward with her children to a new, healthy life, and the minimum amount of support needed to help a woman to transition from harm to healing.
We are in an unprecedented housing crisis. The impact on the domestic violence sector is dire. Women call us every day, living in abusive and violent homes and relationships, asking for help and we cannot bring them and their children into our refuges because they are full.
We need help to expand our services and expand our refuge for women and their children. They need safe housing and continuous, trauma informed case work and support, wherever they live – in violence, in refuge, in pop up safe housing, transitional housing or private rentals.
Our clients are women and children escaping domestic violence and abuse. We accommodate up to 50 families each year for up to three months each at our emergency accommodations Northern Beaches and North Shore locations. These families remain under the care of our Case Workers when they move on to Transitional Housing for up to 12 months. Our Case Workers also assist families still living in the family home after the perpetrator has been removed, or those women who are able to find their own safe housing through family and other networks or private rentals. Last financial year we assisted more than 500 families escaping domestic abuse and/or at risk of homelessness. We are on track to almost double that this year, at the rate we are experiencing so far in 2023.
Our solution: PUSH
Right now, due to the housing crisis, we are implementing a Pop Up program (PUSH) with a series of Pop Up Safe Houses around our catchment area of the Northern Beaches and North Shore. We aim to find and fund ten Pop Up Safe Houses that will help 40-80 families this year alone, depending on the configuration of the houses. For example, our first Pop Up Safe House is a four bedroom 2 story home where we are placing 2 families next week.
Currently, both our refuges and all our transitional housing properties are full and due to the national housing crisis, there are little to no available affordable rentals to house our families. Sadly, our clients, with inconsistent recent work histories and/or new employment (that we’ve helped them secure) will slide to the bottom of the list of applications.
We are in a traffic jam of housing – when we can’t move our families forward into rental housing, we can’t help any more women and children needing emergency refuge. This issue is widespread and the other services we collaborate with and refer to are also full.
Women & Children First are desperately seeking empty properties across the Northern Beaches and Lower North Shore to use as pop-up safe houses for 6-12 months.
These properties would work as extensions of our full refuges, supporting at risk
women and children by keeping them safe, healthy and together, with a roof over their heads. All the while we are then able to work with them on healing and a life pathway forward. We are calling our program the PUSH program, as an acronym for Pop Up Safe House, and because we know that we can’t wait: we have to PUSH forward for a solution, NOW. Social housing pathways are a five to ten year wait. The new housing plan is a 5 year wait. The campaign to end gendered violence is a 5-10 year plan. We receive calls for help every day. We need to Push every avenue possible to break through to a solution right now.
The average rent in the north shore and northern beaches area for a 2-4 bedroom house or apartment is between $800-1000 per week. It is staggeringly high for a single mother with 2 children. If we can put two families in a house for a 12-16 week period while we find other housing options, we can help them escape their current violent environment.
We are seeking 5-10 properties, ranging between 2-4+ bedrooms for 12-month leases, with Women and Children First being the tenant, to confidentially house women and children seeking our refuge.
Women and Children First will be responsible for the rent and condition of the home. We have a pristine record in long-term property management and care. We can pay full rent, or we can accept a lower rent with a tax deduction agreement to benefit the property owners.
We at Women and Children First do all we can to help women free themselves from domestic abuse and family violence. Right now we need community help to do this, in an unprecedented crisis of housing and rising numbers of women – more than ever before – calling our service for help. If you can help us help them – with housing or donations – please contact us.
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