Emergency Housing For Women Escaping Domestic Abuse
The Women in Safe Homes fund is a gender-lens impact investment property fund helping address the housing crisis for women escaping domestic abuse, leaving the criminal justice system and at risk of or experiencing homelessness. It was launched in December 2020 as a joint venture of Resonance and Patron Capital.
There is a chronic shortage of safe, decent and affordable housing for women at risk of and experiencing homelessness. This includes women who have experienced domestic abuse and are in need of a safe place to escape to from their abuser, women who have been released from prison and at increased risk of the cycle of reoffending when they don’t have a safe and stable home to go to; and women - often with children - living in temporary, poor and inappropriate accommodation, struggling to afford housing costs.
The demand for safe and secure homes for women facing homelessness is extremely high. Women’s homelessness is often rooted in trauma and violence and in 2021/22, 1.6 million women in the UK experienced domestic abuse, one of the leading causes of homelessness.
This is where the Women in Safe Homes fund comes in. It provides a safe, stable and sustainable alternative to inappropriate and temporary accommodation, such as B&Bs and (often) mixed gender hostels, instead providing longer-term housing with wraparound, specialist support.
Using investment from its social impact investors, the fund is buying and refurbishing properties – a mix of emergency refuge accommodation and two- and three-bedroom homes – leasing them to its expert, gender-and trauma-informed housing provider partners.
The fund has partnered with seven housing partners so far: Refuge, Nacro, Winner, Daizybell Homes, SaferPlaces, Stop Domestic Abuse and Ella’s.
The fund purchase and refurbishes properties, mindful of improving their environmental credentials, before handing them over to housing partners who then let these homes to women facing housing crisis, with a secure tenancy. One of the important differentiators of the fund is the specialist wraparound support provided to women by the fund’s partners. This holistic approach means women are not only provided with a safe and stable home but with support, they are empowered to take control of and create lives of their choosing, for themselves and their children.
The fund has purchased aims to provide around 150 safe and affordable homes across the UK and to house around 350 women and their children over its lifetime. Since autumn 2021, the fund has been housing and supporting women, like Selima, who had been facing housing crisis:
On meeting Selima for the first time, the support worker reported witnessing a very tearful and emotional woman, who after completing the booking-in process and being taken to the safe accommodation broke down in tears. The support worker thought it was because of the realisation of leaving the abuse, but in fact Selima explained that she was overwhelmed with the safe accommodation, how homely it was and how lucky she felt. Her support worker said: “Now that she’s realised these support services and accommodation are available, she is just flying. She is so lovely.”
The impact of women’s sector and housing partners to reliably scale up the provision of safe, secure and affordable housing in the community for women is huge, with current property investment structures not tailored to their needs.
If your organisation needs property to support women and deliver more impact in this sector, we would like to hear from you.
“Women in Safe Homes is enabling us to open our third safe home in London for survivors of trafficking. It has been wonderful to work with the team at Resonance and great to be part of a large network of organisations who are doing incredible work.”
MINKE VAN TIL, CO-DIRECTOR, ELLA'S
Kim is extremely happy with being in safe accommodation and has already made big steps in making her life and that of her child better, saying ‘Wow! this place is really lovely!’.”
“If you don’t have safe and affordable housing then everything is harder. It’s the bedrock of leading your best life. If you aren’t decently housed then you have a higher chance of bad outcomes in terms of health, education, work, and being able to play a full part in society.”
ALISON INMAN, OBE, PAST PRESIDENT OF THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF HOUSING
“Domestic abuse is an issue which blights the lives of one in every four women. Refuge is delighted to be working with the Women in Safe Homes fund initiative to provide much needed safe, secure and confidential temporary homes to women and children escaping abuse. Alongside this vital accommodation, our experts will provide abused women and children with essential emotional and practical support so they can rebuild their lives from fear and violence.”
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