Women in Melbourne wanting to escape family violence are often trapped by a lack of affordable housing, new figures released by the Council to Homeless Persons show.
The figures revealed there was only one suburb in Melbourne where a single woman on an average wage could rent a two-bedroom house without experiencing financial stress.
That suburb is Melton, 35 kilometres from the CBD, where the average rent on a two-bedroom property is $245 a week.
In Cranbourne the average rent is $280 a week, while in inner city Fitzroy it is $565 a week.
The ABC spoke to Kylie, a young mother who had first-hand experience with housing stress.
When she finally left her violent partner, she had nowhere to go.
Kylie’s partner broke her arms and repeatedly attacked their son.
“He pretty much broke everything that we owned,” she said.
“My son got badly hurt a lot, he’s got scars on his head and … physically kicked around a lot.
“Everybody knew, but nobody knew what to do – and I didn’t know what to do.”
Council to Homeless Persons chief executive Jenny Smith said women who experienced family violence were “stuck between a rock and a hard place.”
“I think these figures show that women are in a very difficult situation when they are looking at leaving family violence, because the choice is between violence or being on the edge of homelessness.” she said.
There are thousands of women and children who have suffered like Kylie and her son.
Not-for-profit agency takes new approach to housing crisis
Kylie eventually signed a lease on a house with Women’s Property Initiatives (WPI), which is developing a new approach to dealing with the housing crisis.
“People say a roof over your head and food on the table is the most important thing and it really is,” Kylie said.
She said her son finally felt safe in the Bundoora house they rented from WPI.
“That was beautiful for us because you get scared of every noise,” she said.
WPI is launching a new real estate arm, with philanthropic seed funding.
The agency, Property Initiatives Real Estate, will funnel all of its profits into the WPI housing program.
The new venture’s business development manager, Kristie Looney, said she had mapped out a plan aimed at making enough money to build 10 houses over the next five years.
“The idea behind it is that through its operation it will generate its own revenue stream and provide social impact well beyond that initial investment,” she said.
The not-for-profit agency manages several rental properties but is yet to sell a house.