YHomes- Ainslie Development

YWCA Canberra is planning a proposed supportive housing development on Block 1, Section 87 Ainslie, on Rutherford Crescent. This proposed 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. We will be building 10 units for older women and women and families who have experienced domestic violence.

Next steps and more information

YWCA Canberra has lodged the Development Application, which is now available for members of the public to view and respond to via the DA website, located under the ‘central Canberra’ category. The period for representations will close on 9 December 2020.

If you have any questions or would like to subscribe to our mailing list for project updates, please contact our project team via Ainslie@ywca-canberra.org.au

YHomes provides affordable, appropriate, and stable homes for women on modest incomes to live independently.

Our latest project is planning for the creation of a supported housing dwelling at Rutherford Crescent, Ainslie (Block 1, Section 87).

Older women are the fastest-growing group in the ACT experiencing homelessness (see Hidden Women documentary), and 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. We currently hold a 99-year lease on the land to deliver community activities. 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 supportive accommodation for older women, as well as younger women with children.

YWCA Canberra will finance the build through a combination of our own funds and philanthropic donations. We also received an ACT Government grant of $125,000 last year to assist with the initial planning process.

YWCA Canberra’s proposal is for 10 supportive housing units. These units (a mix of studio and 2 bedrooms) will be housed within two single-storey buildings. Residents will be provided with on-site parking and a common green.

Click on image to zoom

YWCA Canberra is currently working with local architecture firm AMC to create a sensitive and fit-for-purpose design for our clients, neighbouring residents, the natural environment, and the broader suburb.

If approved, construction will commence during 2021, with expected completion by 2022.

YHomes will cater to women aged 55+ 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.

Click on image to zoom

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 have sought and incorporated the views of neighbours and nearby residents in our housing programs during the master planning process. We have also consulted with older women who are clients of our existing housing services to determine their preferences in housing design.

Neighbours and nearby residents were invited 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.  Feedback was also received via email.

These consultation sessions elicited feedback that saw YWCA Canberra vary the plans to reduce the height of the building from two stories to one story and the number of dwellings from 16 to 10. Our plan incorporates the preservation of the eucalyptus trees, one of the original preschool buildings and includes on-site parking, leaving street parking unaffected.

YWCA Canberra also conducted letterbox drops of Rutherford Crescent and the surrounding streets outlining the proposal and providing contact details for further information.

We will continue to consult with local residents throughout the project to ensure the best possible outcome for the community and future tenants.

We have consulted closely with neighbours, the Inner North Community Council and women in our housing programs during the master planning process, including information flyers, drop-in visits on-site, and online community meetings.

In response to feedback from earlier consultations with Ainslie residents, we have varied the plans to reduce the height of the building from two storeys to one, and the number of units from 16 to 10.  Our plan also incorporates the preservation of trees on the site. On-street parking will not be affected, as resident parking will be provided on-site.

We understand residents’ connection to the adjacent Bill Pye Park. Our block does not include the park, so the development will not impact community use of the park.

As a local charity and community organisation, it is important to us that we consult and maintain positive relations with neighbours throughout the development process, particularly to ensure that our future tenants are welcomed by their neighbours.

Yes. YWCA Canberra purchased the buildings and Block 1, Section 87 (Rutherford Crescent) in 1993 and we currently hold a 99-year lease on the land to deliver community activities and childcare.

Yes. The block is zoned Community Facilities Zone (CFZ). CFZ objectives permit it to be developed for supported housing to benefit the community. Our proposal creates supported and affordable accommodation for local women on modest incomes.

YWCA Canberra will not be applying for a rezoning application for the land and intend to be long term stewards of the units once completed. We are varying the lease to enable us to undertake supported housing on the site.

YWCA Canberra’s proposal is for 10 supportive housing units. 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.

In response to feedback we have reduced the height of the building from two storeys to one. The units will be housed within two single-storey buildings.

Bill Pye Park is located at Block 2, Section 87. The block owned by YWCA Canberra (Block 1, Section 87) does not include the park. No part of the development will impact the park.

No. Our plan preserves the eucalyptus trees on the site including the deceased eucalyptus tree.

Since being purchased by YWCA Canberra the site has been used to provide our community services for children and parents, at-risk youth and women’s programs. YWCA Canberra continues to use the site to coordinate our family day care and outside school care programs, deliver training and house our children’s services library. Currently one of the buildings on the site is leased to Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drugs Association (ATODA)a community organisation. This five-year lease is scheduled to expire in January 2021.

Our proposal will create 10 quality homes for older women 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.