South-west women and children fleeing domestic violence will have access to 10 long-term housing places under a new partnership that was given a $500,000 boost by a windfarm company on Wednesday.
The funding from Tilt Renewables, developer of the $570 million Dundonnell windfarm near Mortlake, will be used for the construction of a $9 million, 24-unit development in Bayswater which will completed early next year.
The units will form part of Women's Housing Limited's portfolio of 156 Melbourne-based properties which are designed specifically for use by victims of domestic violence.
As part of the new safe housing project between the windfarm, Women's Housing and Warrnambool-based Emma House 10 housing places will be guaranteed each year for south-west women and children.
Emma House executive officer Ruth Isbel said the innovative project was unique and "extremely exciting" for Warrnambool.
"At the moment the south-west has a huge issue...with affordable housing, so this project really provides supportive quick options for women to relocate to Melbourne if that's where they wish to go," she said.
"There are 10 guaranteed places for the south-west."
Ms Isbel said the project was the first of its kind.
She said that its high-security refuge was only funded for women to stay an average of six weeks, but women were now staying up to 10 months because they struggled to access housing with up to 30 people vying for each rental property in Warrnambool.
"Affordable housing is at crisis point," she said.
"In our crisis housing, people are staying up to two years because the waiting lists on public housing are long and they can't access rental properties."
Tilt Renewables chief executive Deion Campbell said Warrnambool had a higher rate of reported domestic violence than the state average, and discussions with councils, businesses and community groups had identified it as a key challenge in the region.
"This partnership reflects our commitment to deliver social investment programs that go right to the heart of what the local communities surrounding our wind farm assets require," Mr Campbell said.
"This safe housing program partnership with Women's Housing and Emma House is unique. No other renewable company is looking to implement such a program with such a scale."
Melbourne-based Women's Housing tenancy services manager Veronica Hunt, who is formerly of Warrnambool, said the south-west was the only rural area Women's Housing had partnered with.
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