Housing crisis forces women back to violent homes

Bathurst Women's and Children's Refuge manager Rae Hopkins said the lack of affordable and appropriate rental accomodation for low income earners in Bathurst, made it harder for women to leave violent homes. 010914pdom 
 
 
  
 
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Bathurst Women's and Children's Refuge manager Rae Hopkins said the lack of affordable and appropriate rental accomodation for low income earners in Bathurst, made it harder for women to leave violent homes. 010914pdom 010914pdom

IT is not uncommon for victims of domestic violence to have to return to their home because of the lack of affordable rental accommodation options, according to Bathurst Women's and Children's Refuge manager Rae Hopkins.

She said while the centre could provide women and children with two months of crisis accommodation, it took time to get them permanent accommodation with NSW Housing, Housing Plus, Women's Housing or Bathurst Emergency Accommodation Service.

Ms Hopkins [pictured] said the high demand for public housing meant clients often had to rely on a private rental before they could secure accommodation though one of the four providers.

"We get a list of properties from the real estate agents and our clients go and inspect and apply for them, but mostly never get them."

Ms Hopkins said rents were often more than clients could afford and noted that when women did find properties within their price range they often did not like them because they were dirty or not suitable.

"Another barrier for single women and mums is that they are often judged [unfairly]," she said.

"People think they won't be able to keep paying the rent because they are have come from the shelter or are on benefits. There is that whole stereotype."

Ms Hopkins said the refuge did a weekly report on the number of clients coming in and out and noted that hardly any clients went into private accommodation and that they roughly had a client accepted into NSW Housing every three months.

She said it was crucial that benefit payments were increased to assist with the rising cost of living and noted that there was a need for more investment in public housing.

Ms Hopkins said that there were often cases where women and children had to return to their violent homes because of a lack of other accommodation options.

"Sometimes unfortunately they do have to return home, if they don't have family or friends that can couch surf with," she said.

"Sometimes we can get them into another refuge but a lot have family and lives here so it is hard for them to move."

Ms Hopkins said it was also not uncommon for single women and single mothers to resort to sleeping in their car or down by the river for a period of time because they were left with no alternative.

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