Shelter for older women

ST BART’S will open a new $1.3 million shelter for older single homeless women—the first of its kind in WA.

The shelter will be located at St Bart’s old aged care building on Brown Street, which has been empty since 2012.

St Bart’s CEO John Berger says the organisation raised $1.3m in six months and plans to open the new shelter in early November.

“Statistics show that more and more single women over the age of 55 are finding themselves on the streets,” he says. “We want to prevent that from happening by providing temporary accommodation in our new shelter to give these women time to get back on their feet.

“It’s often things like illness or loss of a job which trigger a chain of events that make older women homeless. We want to create a buffer between them and the streets.”

01. 849NEWS

• St Bart’s CEO John Berger, Graham Patullo and Brian Duggan at the site of the new women’s shelter. Photo by Matthew Dwyer.

St Bart’s research shows that just under half the 13,000 people classified as homeless in WA are women, and the fastest growing homeless demographic is women 50 and older.

The most common reason women seek assistance at St Bart’s shelter in East Perth is family violence, closely followed by financial difficulties.

Perth’s tight rental market—with a particular lack of affordable private rentals—is keeping many homeless.

The new shelter will accommodate around 35 women and offer temporary accommodation for up to 12 months. Mr Berger adds the group hopes to raise $15 million to build around 70 independent living quarters at the old Brown Street site.

To donate to St Bart’s visit http://www.stbarts.org.au  

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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