Keeping Women and Children Housed: Women’s Homelessness Prevention Project

Keeping Women and Children Housed: Women’s Homelessness Prevention Project

Two years, ten client stories and ten calls for change

The Women’s Homelessness Prevention Project (WHPP) is an integrated model of providing legal services that focuses on preventing homelessness through addressing both legal and non-legal needs. It keeps women and children in housing through a combination of legal representation and social work support. 

In its first two years, the WHPP provided legal representation (including advice, negotiation and representation at VCAT) and social work support to 102 women with 157 children who were homeless or on the brink of it. Ninety per cent of these women had experienced family violence.

After two years, the WHPP has an 83% success rate for finalised matters, meaning that women avoided eviction, secured new housing without an intervening period of homelessness or resolved another tenancy legal issue (e.g. a housing debt) that was a barrier to getting safe housing.  The women also received 113 supported referrals to a range of services from the WHPP in-house social worker, including housing support, financial counsellors, GPs, mental health care providers and family violence services.    

Through directly preventing the eviction of 62 women into homelessness, these women and their families have avoided the crisis, hardship and dislocation that homelessness brings with it.  To hear what this meant for one of our clients, Rema, watch this video, Stopping Homelessness Before it Starts.  On top of this, using figures from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, preventing homelessness for these 62 women would mean a cost saving of $1,825,900 in health, justice and welfare costs. 

Informed by what we’ve learnt from providing legal representation and social work support to over 100 women experiencing or at risk of homelessness, Homeless Law has identified 10 systemic changes that will reduce the risk of homelessness for Victorian women and children.

The report states: ‘As it stands, Victoria does not have a legal system or a culture geared toward homelessness prevention and this needs to change … Evictions into homelessness must be an absolute last resort and reducing barriers to immediate re-housing an urgent priority’.

ORGANIZATION: Justice Connect Homeless Law
PUBLICATION DATE: 2017
LOCATION: Victoria, Australia