Proposal offers vulnerable women path to homeownership

Older women are the fastest-growing group at risk of homelessness

Proposal offers vulnerable women path to homeownership

The National Housing and Finance Investment Corporation is backing a new property development model that could clear a path to homeownership for vulnerable women with low but steady incomes.

The concept is a version of the “build to rent” model, in which the developer becomes the landlord and manages the property rather than selling apartments to owner-occupiers and investors, according to a report by The Sydney Morning Herald. The enhanced model is known as “build to rent to buy,” and would give the women the right to purchase their homes.

Nathan Dal Bon, CEO of the National Housing and Finance Investment Corporation, said that the proposed pilot study was in Canberra, but he hoped to expand the program nationally.

“With the model, the idea is to translate and scale it across the country,” Dal Bon told the Herald. “There’s still a bit of work to do, but we’re in dialogue with other stakeholders across other jurisdictions who are also looking to pilot housing initiatives for vulnerable women, so my hope is there’ll be more initiatives next year.”

The project is still in the planning stages, with a goal to start construction later in the year, the Herald reported. Under the model, a woman would pay affordable rent to a community housing provider over a 10-year period, and would then have the right to buy the home.

The corporation has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ginninnderry – a joint venture between the ACT government’s Suburban Land Agency and Riverview Developments – and Community Housing Canberra, to deliver a proof of concept, the Herald reported. While the exact details have yet to be determined, rent would likely be capped at 74.9% of market rent and the woman would be granted a share in capital growth and the savings realised through cheaper finance and operational efficiencies.

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The project is targeted towards women because data shows that older women are the fastest-growing group at risk of homelessness, the Herald reported.

Fiona York, executive officer for Housing for the Aged Action Group, said that older women were less likely to have achieved homeownership or may have lost a home in a divorce. She told the Herald that projects like the proposed build-to-rent-to-buy program were “particularly good for the working poor or women who have a small amount of savings that means they’re ineligible for social housing, but they can’t afford to get into the market.”