Grants to support emergency housing

BeyondHousing housing team leader Annette Johnstone with Clayton Sessions, Rocco Iaria and Sammy Sessions from Sessions Builders. Photo: John Russell

By Jackson Russell

Community housing provider BeyondHousing has been awarded a $390,000 grant from the Federal Government’s Safe Places Emergency Accommodation Program.

The grant will allow BeyondHousing to increase emergency accommodation in Mitchell Shire and provide victim survivors and accompanying children a safe place to escape violence.

BeyondHousing chief executive Celia Adams said the program was the first crisis accommodation purpose built for victims and children fleeing domestic violence and was available for periods of up to six weeks or longer, if required.

Previously, victims and children were accommodated at caravan parks, motels and refuges, which were not always available or appropriate.

BeyondHousing estimates the fully furnished, one and two-bedroom accommodation will house around 45 families per year, depending on specific needs and circumstances.

Ms Adams thanked the government for ‘recognising the importance of providing dedicated emergency accommodation for victim survivors of family violence and their accompanying children’.

“The existing family violence refuges in the Mitchell Shire are constantly utilised, leaving the increasing number of victim survivors in crisis to access often unavailable or inappropriate caravan parks, motels and serviced apartments,” she said.

“The incident rates for family violence in the Mitchell Shire are up to 2.3 times the state average. This project secures immediate safety for women and children impacted by family violence, enabling access to ongoing supports, and planning for long term housing.

“We look forward to working together with Nexus Primary Health and VincentCare to deliver the accommodation and support.”

BeyondHousing provides community housing across north-east Victoria and the Goulburn Valley and were recipients of three out of the seven grants awarded in Victoria.

It also owns 30 properties in Mitchell Shire and is currently constructing or planning to construct another 17 by the end of June, not including Safe Places.

BeyondHousing builds and manages properties for renters that are affordable, safe and secure long-term rental homes, and provides crisis accommodation for people experiencing homelessness, transitional housing and long-term community housing.

Last financial year, BeyondHousing’s provided for more than 860 households across its client services, with 501 of those experiencing homelessness, an increase of 4.9 per cent and 4.8 per cent on the previous year, respectively.

Ms Adams said long-term housing made up the majority of BeyondHousing’s service.

“Renters in our homes include people who have lost their homes in natural disasters, victim-survivors of family violence and their accompanying children, people with specialist health needs, disability accommodation needs and people who have experienced homelessness,” she said.

“It is our job to provide non-discriminatory access to housing for low income or disadvantaged households. Access to housing security is fundamental to employment and participation, to schooling, to social networks and to connection to the community.

“We also provide a range of assistance and support with accessing, establishing and maintaining a private rental tenancy.”