We’re pleased to share that we have commenced construction of our YHomes in Ainslie. At this stage, we hope to have our first tenants moving into their new homes in early 2024.
We can’t thank our supporters enough for your donations, offers of help, and well wishes throughout this process. We are still seeking donations to help fund the fit out of the units, so we can provide a home, not just a house, to our residents.
YHomes is a planned supported housing development in Canberra. This supported housing development is a continuation of our mission to ‘strengthen communities by supporting women and girls through our service and our advocacy.’
Having identified the shortage of affordable rentals for older women and women escaping domestic violence, YWCA Canberra felt we could play a positive role in providing affordable, safe and fit-for-purpose housing solutions for women in the ACT by utilising this land, which we have owned for decades. Following the decision of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (‘the Tribunal’) to set aside the original Development Application granted in April 2021, a new Development Application was lodged by YWCA Canberra in early 2022 accommodating the necessary adjustments.
In a recognition of the importance of the project, YWCA Canberra’s application to develop supported housing for women at risk of homelessness in Canberra was called in by the Minister for Planning and Land Management in June 2022. YWCA Canberra can now move forward to progress this important project, which will help increase the supply of supported housing.
YWCA Canberra values the support and collaboration with industry to make this development a reality.
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YHomes will provide affordable, appropriate, and stable homes for women on modest incomes to live independently.
Our latest project will create a supported housing dwelling in Canberra.
Older women are the fastest-growing group in the ACT experiencing homelessness (see Hidden Women documentary). YWCA Canberra wants to help them by addressing the chronic shortage of affordable rentals in Canberra.
YWCA Canberra purchased this site in 1992 to benefit and support our work in the community. In the past, the site has been used for early childhood services, youth services and community activities.
The zoning of the land permits us to develop it for supported housing to benefit the community. To ensure the site continues to respond to community needs, we are creating affordable accommodation on the block for local women on modest incomes.
As a specialist women’s service, we are well placed to provide supported accommodation for older women, as well as younger women with children.
YWCA Canberra continues to finance the build through a combination of our own funds and philanthropic donations and a grant from the federal government, Safer Communities program. We also received an ACT Government grant of $125,000 in 2019 to assist with the initial planning process.
YHomes will cater to women aged 55+ at risk of homelessness, and women with children who may have experienced domestic and family violence and are on modest incomes.
Our Rentwell and Next Door housing programs have demonstrated that most of our tenants are tertiary qualified, retired public servants who cannot access the mainstream rental market. A YHomes tenant could be your sister, mother or grandmother. These women make excellent tenants and neighbours – they just require affordable housing.
This project fills a gap in the ACT housing market as there are no other purpose-built, independent, affordable rental properties in the ACT specifically designed for women.
We sought and incorporated the views of neighbours and nearby residents as part of the master planning process for the original Development Application. We also consulted with older women who are clients of our existing housing services to determine their preferences in housing design.
As part of the original Development Application process, we invited neighbours and nearby residents to two on-site consultation sessions in February 2020 hosted by the CEO of YWCA Canberra and representatives of the architectural firm AMC. A further online session was held when COVID-19 restrictions were introduced. During these sessions, neighbours and nearby residents were able to view the proposed development and provide feedback. We also letterboxed the neighbourhood, met with the Inner North Community Council and hosted online meetings with the neighbours. We also received feedback via email.
We have elected to not conduct similar community consultation as part of the new Development Application process. This is because the latest Development Application adjustments are in line with the findings of the Tribunal and the views of neighbours were taken into account in the original design phase.
YWCA Canberra’s original development application was for ten supported housing units. Adjustments made following the Tribunal’s ruling mean the latest proposal will have nine dwellings. The mix of units will allow for studio (single occupancy) and two-bedroom (one adult, two children) dwellings. All units will have a private courtyard
The block owned by YWCA Canberra does not include the park. No part of the development will impact the park.
We have had all of the trees on the block assessed, and are proposing to remove 15 trees, 6 of which have been assessed as poor quality, and 9 as medium quality. All trees on the block that have been assessed as high quality or habitat trees are proposed to be retained within our application.
The units will be housed within two single-storey buildings.
Our proposal is to create nine quality homes for older women at risk of homelessness and women with children who have experienced family violence. There is a discernible shortage of affordable housing in Canberra. Older women are the fastest-growing cohort of those experiencing homelessness. Further, domestic and family violence remains a persistent factor in presentations to specialist homelessness services. This homelessness sometimes goes unnoticed by the community as it is hidden, with women often sleeping in their cars or getting by in insecure tenure.
YWCA Canberra has a proud 90-year history of providing essential services to the community. We felt we could play a positive role in providing affordable, safe and fit-for-purpose housing solutions for women in the ACT by utilising this land.
Due to neighbour concerns regarding the status of four trees bordering the boundary line of the build site (block 2, section 87), the site fences have had to be set up to encircle these trees. As these trees are in Bill Pye Park and one is close to the playground, the protective fencing runs beyond the boundary of the block. We reiterate that the final build will not go beyond the boundary line of the block or affect the playground or the park.
We remain committed to the safe relocation of any displaced animals during the build phase. Our team recently discovered a colony of bees and their beehive, which had gone undisrupted between the walls of one of the buildings for several years. As bees are an essential part of our ecosystem, we enlisted the professional services of a bee removalist team and had the bees and their hive safely relocated.