Nearly 70,000 women in Victoria sought assistance from homelessness services in 2016-2017, a 23% jump in four years and rising twice as fast as men. Many of these women were facing preventable evictions for rental arrears. Justice Connect Homeless Law is developing an online tool and implementing a wide-reaching education campaign, which will help women identify that rental arrears is a legal issue, make sure that they understand their rights, and equip them to take steps early to address housing insecurity and prevent unnecessary evictions.
Project Dear Landlord
Amount $90,000 over two years
|TRUST OBJECTIVES||PROJECT OBJECTIVES|
|Rural and regional Victoria||Building the knowledge and capacity of rural and regional women to prevent homelessness through online tools, education and connecting with regional partners|
|Reducing inequality||Empowering women to understand their rights and take steps as early as possible to sustain housing for themselves and their children|
|Building organisational capacity||Building capacity across health, housing, social service and family violence sectors to understand the role of legal services in sustaining tenancies and support women in taking proactive steps to avoid eviction|
|Collaboration and partnership||Fitted for Work, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand, Launch Housing, City of Melbourne, Yarra City Council, Herbert Smith Freehills, Allens, Neota Logic, and University of Technology Sydney|
Dear Landlord aims to address the fact that too many preventable evictions into homelessness are happening in Victoria. It will create knowledge and tools – for low income women, support workers and private real estate agents – to foster cultural and behavioural change that prioritises eviction prevention.
- Almost half of homeless Victorians are women, and 17% are children under the age of 12 years. Family violence, the acute shortage of social and affordable housing and financial difficulties are the most common causes of homelessness in Victoria.
- Dear Landlord is being developed through a consultation and co-design process with women who have experienced the rental arrears eviction process, project partners, support workers and private real estate agents.
- The project includes an education and engagement program with frontline service providers and real estate agents to support women to act early to avoid eviction through the use of Dear Landlord.
- Outcomes will include: an increased understanding for tenants of their options when falling behind in rent; increased capacity of non-legal service providers and real estate agents to assist tenants at risk of eviction; and 500 evictions prevented for users of the online tool Dear Landlord.
- With in-kind support from Allens, Neota Logic and the University of Technology Sydney through the 2018 Law Tech Challenge, a strong prototype of the online tool was developed which will be used to build-out the full version of Dear Landlord: justiceconnect.org.au/resources/dear-landlord/
- Due to COVID-19 impact, the Dear Landlord tool has received a 900% increase in users in February-March 2020.
- Dear Landlord provided key evidence which contributed to the Victorian government introducing better protections for renters affected by COVID-19
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