On International Women’s Day, we recognise that change comes from challenging current systems. As a social impact investment organisation our funds tackle major societal issues, including homelessness. Our focus today is on the gendered disadvantage and inequality of women and how this puts women at risk of abuse and homelessness.
Homelessness for women is a different experience than that for men and it therefore requires a gendered approach and a bespoke solution for housing and support.
The Women in Safe Homes fund, believed to be the world’s first gender-lens property fund has been created with Patron Capital as a solution to the lack of affordable, safe and secure homes across the UK for vulnerable women. It will help house women who are experiencing homelessness, survivors of domestic abuse, are leaving prison, or have other complex needs such as mental health problems.
Gender is fundamental to the impact of the fund and Women in Safe Homes takes an explicit gender-lens approach. Given the focus on transforming the lives of women at risk of homelessness who have experienced multiple forms of disadvantage, the fund is concerned with working in a way that recognises and addresses women’s systemic oppression by working with specialists in this area: Women’s Sector Organisations (WSOs), the fund’s Charity Partners and initial investees, including Big Society Capital and The MacArthur Foundation.
Women’s pathways in and out of homelessness are often rooted in trauma, domestic abuse, and violence:
Risk of homelessness is also a concern for women being released from prison:
Additionally, there are knock-on effects for women’s families. 90% of children have to leave home due to their mother’s imprisonment5. Caught in a ‘Catch 22’ situation, upon release from prison a woman is generally unable to get her children back from social care or family arrangements unless she has somewhere suitable to live. However, she is often not entitled to suitable housing unless her children are living with her6.
Existing housing options do not serve women sufficiently well. We need to focus specifically on filling the gap that exists between emergency accommodation and permanent social housing. 1.6 million women in the UK had experienced domestic abuse and were referred to specialist domestic abuse refuges in 2019 but:
And with funding cuts, reluctant private landlords, and many women being part of the hidden homeless population, this problem is a complex one to tackle. It needs a gender-lens solution, prioritising the focus on women who are in need of safe, secure and affordable housing.
Women are largely invisible in housing and homelessness policy across the UK. Many are hidden from help and are at risk of being undercounted and slipping through the cracks in the system. Often, policy interventions and mainstream services do not cater to women’s often specialist and complex needs, particularly for those facing multiple economic and social discrimination, including black and minority ethnic women, disabled women, and older and younger women.
The Women in Safe Homes fund has been created to be sustainable, partnering with numerous WSOs across the UK. Properties will be leased to WSOs, ensuring the bespoke housing and support needs of women are met. This partnership means that women will be supported to manage their tenancies and properties, whilst receiving specialist support to overcome trauma, enabling them to rebuild their lives. It’s a world-first that’s been in the making for over two years.
As with all Resonance social impact investment funds, the Women in Safe Homes fund is built with the hope that it will challenge current systemic inadequacies and encourage more capital into the hands of the organisations delivering life-changing work towards women’s parity. It will do this by promoting effective housing approaches to policymakers and create a more conducive operating environment for vulnerable women and WSOs, and aim for the Women in Safe Homes fund to act as a trailblazer for the wider gender-lens investment community.
So, on this International Women’s day, and every other day, we’re working towards sustainable long-term housing solutions to support those vulnerable women most at risk of homelessness.
Find out more about the Women in Safe Homes fund
The Women in Safe Homes fund lunched in December 2020 with an initial investment of £15.5 million. It is targeted to quickly scale to a target fund size of £100 million, providing over 650 homes across the UK.
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Resonance Limited is a company registered in England and Wales no. 04418625
Resonance Impact Investment Limited, a subsidiary of Resonance Limited, is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Firm number 588462.
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