Community housing organisation Bridge Housing has partnered with Women’s Community Shelters and Sydney property developer Payce to house homeless women in properties earmarked for redevelopment, in a pilot venture they hope will expand to other developers nationally.
Payce said that its plans for a $100 million urban renewal project in north western Sydney would ultimately provide 5,000 new apartments for families in the region. In the interim, five existing homes have been made available to Bridge Housing and Women’s Community Shelters to house women and their children escaping family violence.
Bridge Housing CEO John Nicolades said: “As specialists in housing people on moderate-to-low incomes in Sydney, Bridge Housing is always seeking opportunities to create more safe, affordable housing, so we were delighted to work with Payce and Women’s Community Shelters to make this project happen.
“While transitional housing is only ever intended as a temporary solution, it will put a secure roof over the heads of women and their children while they get their lives back on track. It also uses underutilised properties in a city with a severe housing shortage, at no cost to government.
“We hope our project is the start of a broader trend of not-for-profit organisations working in partnership with the property development industry to find innovative solutions to our common supply and affordability issues.”
Bridge Housing said there were currently more than 60,000 people on the waiting list for social housing in New South Wales alone.
Bridge Housing’s general manager of operations, Rebecca Pinkstone told Pro Bono News she was “really excited to get other developers on board to see this as a model that they could also use to have a practical impact on housing affordability in their states and regions”.
“We are eager that other developers look at this Payce model because they are obviously doing the same thing. They are buying up properties and land banking for future development and what we are saying is, in the interim, we can use those [houses] effectively to assist people through a transitional housing project,” Pinkstone said.
She said that while Payce had earmarked five properties, they were also looking at other opportunities to encourage other developers.
“They are taking a bit of a risk working with all of us as partners but I think that once we prove that the model is successful and can be sustainable, there will be lots of opportunities through Payce and other developers in Sydney,” Pinkstone said.
“For us the Payce project is a pilot or example on how we can think differently about the existing properties that are out there in the housing market to support different groups.
“I have been doing some work in Sydney that’s built on the Melbourne model with [property expert] Robert Pradolin. When Rob contacted me to talk about his pop up shelter initiative, I explained [that] we have been doing the same sort of thing in Sydney looking at these types of opportunities. So it is happening in other states and he has been able to leverage that in Melbourne through a partnership with Launch Housing for homeless people.”
In 2016 Pradolin revealed his concept of the pop-up shelter to utilise existing infrastructure such as vacant office buildings that are going through a long redevelopment process and use them to help partially solve the short term shelter issues around homelessness.
Pinkstone said: “There is opportunity across Australia to be working in partnership with the development industry and support services and community housing providers on very innovative projects.
“We are always looking for long term housing, that’s definitely the priority, but even to utilise these properties in a way that can impact people’s lives for a shorter period of time, help them get some stability and then move on with their lives that’s a fantastic thing too. And we need to look at lots of different approaches.”
She said under the Payce partnership they had already housed two women and their children in a shared accommodation model in one of the larger houses and others would follow in early 2018.
Bridge Housing has nearly 2,000 properties housing more than 3,100 people and by July 2019 the not for profit said it will be managing more than 2,000 additional tenancies. It recently won an award for its leading innovation at the NSW Awards for Excellence in Community Housing.
This article was published in Pro Bono Australia. Click below for the original article