YHomes is a planned supported housing development on Block 1, Section 87 Ainslie, on Rutherford Crescent. 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 recently lodged by YWCA Canberra accommodating the necessary adjustments.
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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 at Rutherford Crescent, Ainslie (Block 1, Section 87).
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 will 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.
YWCA Canberra is currently working with local architecture firm AMC to create a sensitive and fit-for-purpose design for our clients and to accommodate the necessary adjustments following the decision of the Tribunal to set aside the original planning approval. If our adjusted Development Application is approved, construction will commence during 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.
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.
Our latest Development Application is still awaiting approval from the Planning Authority. As with the previous Development Application, we are confident that the development is permitted under the current zoning of the land.
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 (Block 1, Section 87) 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 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.