News & Events

Fresh Start keeping women in homes

March 12, 2020

When Zara* was about to evicted from her new home, she was at her wits’ end. One of her children had been put in hospital due to serious illness. As a casual employee, she was unable to work, and therefore be paid, as she juggled between looking after her other school-aged child and being at the hospital.

Fortuitously Zara was linked to Emerge’s outreach services and told her case worker about her plight.

“She had been told that if she did not pay her rent immediately, she would lose her home and be tipped once again into homelessness,” Paula Westhead, Emerge’s Executive Officer said.

Zara was assisted with a month’s rent in advance to enable her to stay in her new home through the Fresh Start Fund, with thanks to The Funding Network.

“Fresh Start was a lifesaver for Zara as it allowed her to keep stability for her children during a difficult and emotional time,” Paula said.

The Fresh Start Fund was initiated by Emerge with the aim of providing women with the initial bond money they need to secure a private rental property and make it their home. Each fresh start costs $3,500.

“For women and children recovering from family violence finding safety in a high crisis, secure refuge, such as ours at Emerge, is an incredibly important first step. It’s a place they can escape to for the short term to start to feel safe and secure again, and rebuild as a family while being supported through our Outreach services.  Coming to our refuge means they don’t have to remain at home with violence or end up homeless,” Paula said.

However, for many women and children, like Zara, the next step in their recovery journey is to leave the refuge and to try to find a new home.

Public housing is challenging to secure as the waitlist is anywhere from seven to ten years, and when they try to secure a private rental property they need to find the immediate funds to cover the upfront costs, such as a month’s rent in advance and a security deposit.

The $49,000 funding has so far helped ten families, around 45 mums and children, with their rental property expenses, including paying a month’s rent in advance, cleaning and taxis to transport families to their new homes. Some families have also received financial counselling as part of fund.

When talking to women we realised that budgeting was also needed to assist them to understand how best to structure their money to pay rent and ongoing bills. Our financial counselling service came to the fore,” Paula said.

Emerge is expecting up to 100 women and children to need a Fresh Start over the next year as the new refuge will be open, and families will move from the refuge into private rental properties.

Supporters wishing to donate to Emerge for services such as Fresh Start, can donate here.

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