Having been a single older woman who has experienced shades of homelessness, I understand the shame, humiliation, and associated challenges. I was also quite clear on what I wanted. As mentioned last week, I am forever grateful for those who helped during that time. It would have been even better though to have some of the opportunities that I have outlined below for overcoming homelessness. So, continuing on with the series, A Futurist’s Solution for Homelessness for Women Over 40 Part 2, I believe the solution is multi-faceted/ multi-pronged:
Provision of housing for the short term and possibly extending to medium term
Did you know that years ago if you were a teacher or nurse transferred to another city or regional area there were residential colleges you could stay in? Even as single expat teacher, you can stay in bedsit type accommodation or share houses with other overseas teachers.
Please note this article does not address women in crisis, who have numerous other services available to them.
Two solutions that come to mind for women in the short-medium term for older women in danger of homelessness are:
- Have the more traditional boarding house, lodges or residential colleges where each woman has her own room with a wardrobe and desk, which is simple, safe and clean. These may have access to a shared kitchen or perhaps are inclusive of dinner and breakfast.
- Have co-housing opportunities where numerous older single women share a house. However I would suggest an organised approach with an external mediator being available to help deal with issues as and when they arise.
Often due to the humiliation, unwanted and even unexpected position of finding yourselves homeless for whatever reason, there is a deep shame which may lead to depression. So, I would love to see these homes having access to pastoral care of some type such as with affordable counselling like chaplaincy. Then also access to further training or assistance with rebuilding the resident’s lives with employability skills, and/or small business training and mentoring. One project I really like which this could be modelled on is Foyer Oxford in Perth, Western Australia. This is a program for youth and young adults who are in danger of being homeless and who are engaged in work or study. Their deal is also worth noting here as an example of best practice, but would need to be modified to suit the different target market:
- Be able to self-care, self-manage and live independently;
- Keep in regular contact with your case manager, and respond to them when they get in touch;
- Be willing to connect with support programs to further develop your “adulting” skills and work towards financial independence;
- Be motivated to maintain engagement with Employment, Education or Training at a full time capacity;
- Meet the obligations of a normal lease, including paying your rent on time, and keeping your apartment clean, tidy, and safe;
- Follow a few house rules, designed to maintain a positive, aspirational community, and;
- Be a positive community member in Foyer Oxford, and in Leederville.
In this way the women would have a safe, clean and stable place to stay with clear guidelines for the accommodation to protect and respect all residents. The living situation would also ideally have an aspect of teamwork by serving each other as in a healthy household where no one person feels a sense of entitlement.
Access to particular services is preferred:
- Access to services (as outlined above) where the women would have a chance to heal (especially if she has experienced trauma such as from domestic violence.
- Access and encouragement of weekly attendance at courses on life-skills where each woman would have a chance to not only learn but also share wisdom they have when they are up to it.
- Access to courses on increasing your financial (and emotional) intelligences
- Access to activities that the women themselves can offer, even to the wider community if appropriate
Ideally, I would love to see micro-business opportunities that may become available via approved application following a creative process to identify a gift/talent/passion, as well as mentoring, perhaps further study to develop the skills in that area. Small loans would also be available again via approved application process with the funding being a mix between seed funding and micro-financing.
I honestly believe that by giving these women a safe, clean and stable place to live and heal, they can rebuild their lives while also creating a sense of community, participate in further training, and/or a micro-business, ready to launch out into their next phase of life when they are ready.
To read more articles in the series A Futurist’s Solution to …
Such as provided in women’s shelters for victims of domestic violence so the perpetrators are not able to locate the victim and cause harm (or cause disturbance and/or harm to other residents and workers