Family Violence Head Lease Program

 

Creating homes for victims of family violence.

In an effort to support women and children who are fleeing family violence, EACH Housing (EHL) is proud to have provided the Family Violence Head Lease Program over the past two years, which has supported vulnerable women and families flee family violence.

Funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, the program quickly assists women with a subsidised rent model to enable them to succeed in transitioning into the private rental market independently.

The initiative provides women with a 12-month lease in the private rental market utilising a ‘step up’ subsidised rent model, which ultimately allows them to take on a lease at the expiration of 12 months.

EACH Housing takes out the lease in its name paying full market rent for the 12 month period and sublets the property to the women at the discounted rent. Head leasing is also an attractive option for landlords/owners as EACH Housing provides the security of tenure and rental payments.

The program has resulted in excellent outcomes, with the EACH Housing Team worked closely with family violence services, underpinned by an integrated service model – providing affordable, safe and secure housing to 22 families affected by family violence and actively involve women to work with support services to address their homelessness.

EACH Housing also links the families into other services provided by its parent company EACH, such as financial counselling, gamblers help, and drug and alcohol dependency programs.

With the excellent outcomes experienced by the women and their children across the 22 head leases, EACH Housing is hopeful that this important program will be extended. This is particularly critical as we see the increase in domestic violence as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions.

 

COVID-19 and Staying Safe

Everyone has the right to feel safe and be respected in their own home.

For many people, including victim-survivors of family violence, being at home is not always a safe place.

If you are in immediate danger call the Police on 000.

Find more family violence information and support please visit the Domestic Violence Resource Centre.

For crisis support, information and accommodation, please contact Safe Steps 24/7 on 1800 015 188.

For phone help and referral, please contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

For a specialist LGBTIQ family violence service, please contact WithRespect on 1800 542 847.

For support for women who live in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, please contact Eastern Domestic Violence Service on 9259 4200.

For support for men, please contact Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.

 

Family Violence Head Lease Program Client Story

* Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

Helen*, a mother of three, lived in a small rural town with her younger children.

Helen had experienced significant family violence from her adult son Sean* for a number of years. The abuse included financial abuse, physical assaults, threats to harm and property damage.

Sean’s children were placed in the care of their grandmother Helen after she witnessed and was subjected to his violence. The children’s mother was addicted to substances and also unable to safely look after them.

Helen, a single mother, was now taking care of 5 children on her own.

With much difficulty and inner conflict, she took an intervention order out against Sean. This order was breached on multiple occasions as Sean continued to visit the property, often being substance affected.

Helen reached breaking point when he came to the house with a new girlfriend wielding a crowbar and demanding money. The police were called, and Sean and his girlfriend left for an acquaintance’s house whereby they assaulted the acquaintance so severely she was hospitalised.

Seeing this escalation in violence and fearing for herself and the children, Helen fled to Melbourne.

The family was supported by a family violence organisation to pay for transport, emergency relief and a few nights of crisis accommodation. They then linked in with a community housing organisation which was able to fund a further stay in a furnished suburban unit.

Ideally, this would be for short term whilst Helen found a private rental. However, this proved very difficult given her lack of rental history, large family, single status, employment status and being the owner of 2 dogs.

During this time, Victoria had entered into the first wave of restrictions in response to COVID-19 pandemic. The family, therefore, was dealing with the aftermath of trauma and relocation, a pandemic and isolation.

The children were not engaged with schooling as they couldn’t enrol until they found long term housing. Having health issues and recognising she was the sole carer for the children, Helen became extremely anxious about contracting the virus. In addition, the housing organisation and Helen were paying exorbitant fees to stay in what is expected to be short-term crisis accommodation.

Fortunately, the family had the opportunity to connect with the EACH Housing Head Leasing Program, which was a turning point in their lives. Helen was able to be supported to find appropriate housing and pay subsidised rent for the duration of the 12-month lease.

The program provided Helen with an opportunity to break into the private rental market. She was able to start budgeting and use money saved on rent towards furnishing the house and setting up in Melbourne.

Having stable housing enabled the family to be linked in with local support services including counselling, education and family services. Importantly, it provided a safe environment for the grandchildren to recover from the cumulative trauma they had experienced.

Helen’s main concerned moving forward is the lack of options for long term leases, which is felt by many vulnerable families. Without long term lease agreements, the family could find themselves moving from property to property every couple of years, which can undermine the progress achieved and creates a lingering sense of anxiety.

 

Head Lease Program Summary 

Keeping Families Together

Established to support women and children escaping family violence, offering a subsidised rent model which enables families to ‘get back on their feet’, allowing a choice of letting, rental experience and references.

 

Partnerships

This program was proudly delivered by EACH Housing in partnership with the Department of Health & Human Services and with other support services such as EDVOS. Uniting, Anchor, Kara House, Safe Futures.

 

Who did we assist?

  • 68% Australian Born
  • 9% identify as aboriginal
  • 41% born overseas
  • 4.5% under 30yrs
  • 63.5% aged 30-40yrs
  • 31.5% aged 41-50yrs

 

56 Children Housed

56 Children were provided with safe, secure housing across 22 properties.

 

Feedback

“I love my new home and the program has really improved my life!”

“Honestly can’t thank you enough for all the help/support you have provided.”

“I could not be happier with EACH Housing. They contacted me promptly, explained the Head Lease Program and helped me to find suitable and affordable housing”

 

 Learn more about EACH Housing here.

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