Help at hand for homeless Illawarra mothers

Young Aboriginal mothers will soon have access to medium-term shared accommodation in the Illawarra.

CareSouth and the Housing Trust have teamed up to establish Elizabeth Henry House, set to open next month, to provide a stable home for young Aboriginal women and women with Aboriginal children who are clients of CareSouth's Brighter Futures program and are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

The house will provide accommodation for three women, aged between 14 and 24, and up to six children, depending on their age, at any one time for up to 12 months. A residential support worker will be on hand at all hours.

CareSouth regional manager Carol Newing said the organisation had previously identified housing problems as a significant concern among its clients.

She said living in the house would help tenants enter the private and public housing market in the future because they would have a record of adhering to a tenancy agreement and regularly paying rent.

Support will also be provided to the women to help them develop independent living and parenting skills, such as planning healthy meals and dealing with any problems in their children's behaviour.

"It's not just accommodation, it's a supportive environment," Ms Newing said.

"We'll also be doing some linking into the community ... we hope to be able to link the women back into their cultural connections if they haven't had that opportunity in the past and we're hoping to link them into TAFE and education opportunities they may have dropped out of."

Housing Trust operations manager Chris Lacey said finding a stable home was often the first step in addressing other problems.

"Safe and secure housing is the starting point in working on a range of issues people might have in their lives. A safe and secure house is the bedrock around which other support can be built upon because once someone knows they have a roof over their head, they can tick that box and work more effectively on other things," he said.

Mr Lacey said the Housing Trust would evaluate the success of the project during the year.

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