NCWQ Habitat Report: July 2020

By Dr Donnell Davis, NCWQ Habitat Adviser

This report covers:
1. NCWQ Narelle Townsend Urban Design Bursary 2020
2. Ngambany – Urban Design For Pandemics
3. Covid in Cities
a. density ≠ disease,
b. recovery success matrix 17 countries
c. unintended consequences
4. Feminist Futures (living with Covid) leadership by women (WEF)
5. ERA papers – housing and Covid

 

Download the Report

NCWQ-Habitat-Report-July-2020 (1mb pdf)

 

 

NCWQ Habitat Report: February 2020

By Dr Donnell Davis, NCWQ Habitat Adviser

Habitat is all about the right to shelter. Shelter includes our cohesive communities and sustainable cities. United Nations Habitat is now led by a woman, former Governor for Penang in Malaysia, Ms Maimunah Mohd Sharif   who convened special events in Asia in 2019, and the World Urban Forum last week in Dubai.

The World Urban Forum saw professionals, NGOs, financial institutions and local government representatives from cites of 90 countries. While innovation was focussed on technology for smarter cities (for better faster, safer infrastructure and transport systems), the practical innovations came from Planners for Climate change (P4CA) and community groups for affordable and adequate housing for vulnerable populations. Vulnerable people include students, families, sole parents, ageing and the disabled.   https://wuf.unhabitat.org/sites/default/files/2019-08/programme.pdf  The solutions may look sensible, but there are many practical issues to address to be effective as medium or long term living. Ideally, people wish to be independent as long as possible in safe quality surroundings, with connectivity to work, shops, schools, health services and recreational places. Tiny housing, mobile housing, granny flats, fonzie flats, and co-housing provide only part of the puzzle.

Climate change is impacting different cities in different ways. Coastal cities may be vulnerable in many ways with storms, cyclones, sea level rise, inundation, tidal waves and in Australia, dense populations fighting for different uses of the thin strip of fertile land on our coastal plans.  While rural towns contend with either too much or not enough rain (CSIRO 2020), raging bushfires after early or extended droughts(WWF), economic downturns (ABARE), primary industry stresses, loss of children migrating to cities for education and not returning to the family home (ACOSS), ageing farmers, and loss of food crops because natural systems are changing.

Locally these things are not being met with sufficient good governance.  In Brisbane city, several decisions for town planning have been seen as milestones. On the one hand we have a suburb that has prohibited development that does not fit with preserving the character of the street and neighbourhood, thereby keeping the timber and tin and the Queenslander style, for renovations and for new infill development. On the other hand, code assessment of new developments mean a tick a box approach to building that does not require third party review of plans, thereby fast tracking construction. The assessment codes interpretations range from esoteric to prescriptive.  So what? Your new neighbours can build to the boundary and may prevent sunshine or fresh ventilation to your older home, without consulting you about their plans.  The unintended consequence is unhappy neighbours resulting in long processes in the Planning and Environment Court when it is too late to find a compromise.

In the Redlands, there are proposals to privatise public land, meaning that public access to the foreshore with RAMSAR endangered species, will be sold to private hospitality investors to control the access, foreshore, littoral zone, and part of the passage to the Moreton Bay Islands. This has been a concern for residents for years and an inquiry has been launched in the Queensland Parliament. ‘Longevity by Design’ involved 15 teams of urban design professionals, community members and ageing advocates, who designed futures for living longer in the Redlands for Maclay Island, Russell Island, Mount Cotton, and Victoria Point. Each provided something special but few addressed the innovative recommendations arising from the World Urban Forum. However, there is hope for affordable, healthier, connected, cohesive futures for older people and a ‘Blue Zone’.

 

NCWQ Habitat Report: November 2019

By Dr Donnell Davis, NCWQ Habitat Adviser

This statement canvasses the report card on Australia’s performance on SDG 11, and what is happening in Queensland and Australia.  In a nutshell, the ‘right for shelter for all’ is under scrutiny and sustainable low-carbon urban living is under threat, and civil liberties for people living in cities are being breached.

UN Habitat Day was the first Monday in October, where the UN Secretary-General reiterated the innovation improving human lives, while rapid and unplanned urbanization can generate severe problems, such as pollution, crime, inequality, disease, vulnerability to disasters and a lack of affordable housing.  Although 60% of the world lives in towns and cities, 90% of Australia’s populations are urbanised.  Cities are economic engine-rooms, social hubs, as well as gross generators of polluting carbon. However, other factors are impacting climate change in Australia, with land clearing reducing our capacity to sequester carbon, and bushfires reducing air quality. So a perfect storm is brewing because of behaviour in our cities as well as our stewardship of land.

This is not just a personal responsibility issue but a good governance issue with leadership needed at all levels – local for town planning and services, state for infrastructure and conducive regulations that prevent more carbon sources, and at national for adherence and enhancement of 4 quadrants of global standards for sustainable cities.  Some Australian cities and states are stepping forward.

Global statistics indicate 70% of greenhouse gases are generated by humans in cities. But some greener cities are cleaner with regenerative design and net-positive development, while some are worse with population explosions, slums with no electricity or waste management or transport infrastructure investment.  UN Habitat encourages Urban Thinkers Campus Days in capital and major cities to contemplate better systems for communities, academics, professionals and urban practitioners. This year, Melbourne, Cairns and Brisbane hosted these events. The topics ranged from social justice in an ageing population, environmental stewardship of community-use parks with carbon sucking options in drought and fire risk areas, passive natural infrastructure in intensive urban development, and things like use of big data in our cities being skewed on old crime statistics so that there is systemic bias before the access and use of data.   So, topics ranged from compassion, to corrupt, to clean, to climate change, to clever.

In Brisbane, the big data discussion was enlightening, when facial recognition technology in the Queen Street mall was introduced, without permission, for all visitors and shoppers and children then possibly shared with public, private and Interpol.  This was considered a breach of civil liberties by most of the participants and the academic panel who canvassed concerns.

Despite great efforts by charities, homelessness continues are housing prices plateauing and rentals are rising. The good news is that increasing supply of social and low cost housing have been evident to meet an increasing demand, and student-only lodges and hostels are multiplying within walking distance of vocational education and universities.   However, young mothers and older women still live in cars in our mild climate. One survey recorded 5000 homeless people (living in cars) in the Gold Coast despite charities collecting, feeding and clothing many people every night.  Unlike Las Vegas where homelessness is now a crime, there are only laws in our cities against loitering in a public place, not for the state of being ‘unsheltered’. So, crossing the line when victims of circumstances now become criminals questions our collective humanity.

In Queensland, the recent legislation provided appointment and independent Commissioner for Human Rights, Scott McDougall and the new system opens 1 January 2020, although we will launch on 10 December on UN Human Rights Day. The legislation only addresses 25 of the UN Declarations of Human Rights of 1948, but there are enough triggers within the text to address adequate shelter.

Meanwhile, town planning allows for ‘human kennels’ in inner city precincts, and 180 square metre house blocks in suburbs some with common side walls, in certain circumstances. There is no longer a need for greenspace in developments, in some town plans. However, it is noted that there are still 6 models for housing development in South East Queensland.  Community plans in councils are no longer considered, despite legislation for public participation for a community vision. So, the issue might be community vigil and enforcement, not more laws.

In 2019, the federal government made direct funding to states and cities for City Deals and Transformative cities programs. Although the transformation deal concentrates on rapid transport, there concern that other important issues are overshadowed by the shiny new toys in Treasury. These deals do not get vetted by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) process where all states meet with federal to decide 10 fundamental policies across Australia.  Instead COAG made a statement to open up North Queensland and the Cape to urban development. This is now possible because the Wild Rivers Legislation is all but repealed, so intact ecosystems in the hot tropics are up for sale for urban development in our severe climate zone.

City deals, in comparison, had some input from civil society apart from big business, so there are more promising expectations at local levels.  There are extra incentives for innovation to tackle multiple-dimension local opportunities.

Dr Barbara Norman is Australia’s UNAA Goodwill Ambassador for Cities SDG 11. She is based in ANU in Canberra, after a career and international postings focussing on Sustainable cities, Shelter for All, and regenerative human settlements.  There are a range of other outstanding women in Urban Habitat Professions, and 100 womens’ names were documented for Queensland Parliament.

What are our concerns for the future? Water supply and carrying capacity for food, social infrastructure like schools, hospitals and essential transport hubs, adequate and appropriate housing fro vulnerable people (including those with one pay day away from homelessness), social justice for ageing populations, and human health from climate change impacts.  While 160,000 more homes in Queensland face sea inundation this decade there are more developments being approved in prone areas – sea level rise, flood in estuaries and low lying zones, fire risk in drought times, and cyclone zones.   This begs the question of liabilities for inappropriate approvals, care by designers, care by builders and surveillance by building certifiers, and awareness and trust by the end user of the processes.  Trust in new buildings is at an all-time low, as young apartments are demolished resulting from bad workmanship and greed of developers.   Investment in 1980s and 1990s built housing is recommended and those by owner builders, who care about standards and precautionary systems.

Should you require more detailed information or reports substantiating these statements, please feel free to contact me. Please feel free to cherry-pick and summarise this statement for your audiences.

NCWQ Habitat Report: July 2019

By Dr Donnell Davis 

NCWQ report on United Nations Habitat

This report encompasses the concise history, evolution of focus, and roles for women in human settlements now and in the future.

UN Habitat Program evolved from the urban drift of people over the last 50 years moving from rural lifestyles to town and city living. Some countries, like Australia, Netherlands and Bangladesh having the highest intensities of urbanisation and sprawl, face some challenges. Cities are a microcosm evoking challenges with human health, environmental stewardship, economic engine-rooms, cultural cocktails, and good governance. Even climate change language evolves with an urban context, from natural rural hazards to being described as an extreme event or disaster, when impacting intense human populations.

In 1976, the UN Human Settlements Council met with many UN signatory countries to establish UN Habitat 1 Agenda that mandated policies and guidelines for safe infrastructure, building on the responsibilities for human health that commenced with 1864 town water supply and distribution. The Agenda planned for the next 20 years, to develop our towns and cities in a desirable direction. In 1996, UN Habitat 2 Agenda concentrated on social justice and care for the people within cities, because inequity was considered a trigger crime (against the person and to property), and civil unrest tested industrial systems. In 2016, UN Habitat 3 focussed on 8 urban policies and demonstrating integration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) into the microcosm of SDG11. The UN Habitat role evolved from “right to shelter’ to ‘planning sustainable cities’ to ‘regenerative cities’. In 2001, UN Habitat became a fully-fledged program of the United Nations (led by Doctor Anna Tibaijuka), because it was previously embedded as a ‘Practice’ arm of United Nations Environment Policy (UNEP) led by Klaus Toffler. This is understandable because many of the problems in human settlements resulted from inequities and the lack of environmental stewardship for clean water; clean air; access to food, access to natural spaces, forests of timber and resources for building housing; and sanitation.

UN Habitat was a milestone in UN history. It was a UN Program inaugurated by a woman, and it was also the first to work directly with local governments, civil society, professionals, and academia, (rather than have the sole conduit with National Government bureaucrats and politicians of the moment.) Being a practice-oriented organisation opened new doors previously elusive for good governance and localisation of international policy. One of the major achievements was gender-land-tools for tenure security (most applicable where women are not allowed to own assets or property in their own right).

I have been a UN Habitat CSO representative and country representative through CHEC since 2001, and was elected NGO spokesperson in 2009 Governing Council. The Governing Council meets every 2 years in UNH/ UNEP/ UNOP head office in Kenya to determine policy.

In alternative years, UNH hosts a practice-oriented Word Urban Forum in a different country. In 2019, Kuala Lumpur hosted. Today, the permanent Asia-Pacific Regional Office Prepared by Dr Donnell Davis for National Council Women Q of UN Habitat (ROAP) is in Fukuoka, Kyushu, Japan. However, in the early 2000s, Habitat Pacific was registered through UNAA in Queensland, dissolving as Pacific Island Countries established their own systems. There are 24 Pacific countries within PIANGO, 12 in the Commonwealth of Nations, and only a few funded directly by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) systems. In 2019, DFAT Friendship Grants were made available to NGOs to support on-the-ground projects in the Pacific.

Feminism was demonstrated in UN Habitat because it rediscovered its roots where ‘the woman is where the home is’ , ‘woman is at the hearth’, ‘a woman and children make a home’, and housing is an important basic human need for physical security especially for women and children. Accordingly, women should be participating strongly in decisions about housing. Until recently town planning was a man’s domain, but now more women than men graduate from urban design and planning university courses. In Australia, 70% of those graduating from urban and regional planning were female (2017). This trend is now evident in engineering, architecture, transport planning, social planning, and public infrastructure management.

Australia was described as urbanised with 92.1% of the total population live in towns and cities, when using UN Habitat criteria that relates to potable water and sanitisation (2009), but we are also the most suburbanised with our sprawl. Unfortunately, most of us live in the most fertile coastal land where the highest purpose might be growing food rather than concrete. This also where the most dense vegetation and forests that sequester carbon providing the most valuable ecosystem services, are those decimated by rapid urban development. Furthermore, we are building in the places at high risks of natural climate change impacts (sea level rise and cyclones) exacerbated by anthropogenic greenhouse gas production in cities. Our cities are making us live like ‘boiling frogs in greenhouse soup’ (Davis, 2014). But is does not have to continue that way.

We previously used the philosophy of ‘planning and development’, but despite 40 years of improvements in urban design and planning, recent changes in Queensland have only reflected development, without adequate evaluation or planning policy compliance (many references). The archaic mindset that we need more development for economic security, needs to be reconsidered as done in other countries, where ‘prosperity without growth’(Jackson, 2009) has proven that urban consolidation provides stability. In South East Queensland, civil society debated our future of 6 cities, 47 urban centres and 137 towns, resulting in a ‘Peoples Declaration for Habitat 3 for SEQ’ (UNAAQ, 2017).

Resilient cities resulting from a decade of focussed UN Habitat research and practice, are those retrofitting and redesigning to prevent, mitigate impacts, adapt systems, and enhance quality of life for people. This mainly concentrated on economic investments in resilient infrastructure, but this did not go far enough.Prepared by Dr Donnell Davis for National Council Women Q Regenerative cities espouse ‘net-positive-development’ (Birkland, 2008) for integrated economic, environmental and social benefits that do not ‘kill the goose that lays the golden eggs’. They are designed for greater good and regenerative impacts, often embracing biomimicry (Benyas, 2002), encouraging stronger Biophilia (Wilson 1929), better community collaborations, and giving back more than taking from the earth. Cities do not have to be unhealthy, unbalanced, and undesirable (Blakely & Carbonell, 2012). In most cases, we need to retrofit our cities housing and living conditions to meet changing demographics, public expectations of safety, climate change, and cost of living. What was being built in 1920s or 1950s might not be useful in 2020, but repurposing existing buildings is a worthy consideration. It is always easier to design a green-field site with the perfect design, but these days it is an expensive luxury with land availability, pricing and risk management decisions.

I will provide good case studies and updates about November each year after performance reporting by OECD. Australia has fallen from 7th to 37th world ranking in a few short years. Please refer to the hotlink for quick reference for SDG 11 goals, indicators, targets and measures. https://www.globalgoals.org/11-sustainable-cities-and-communities

What can women do better to make cities safer, fairer and more sustainable?

1. Participate in your own community, city, and state and nationally in any urban development proposal that does not appear ethical or regenerative. Write to your respective politician (councillor, LG development chair, minister, shadow minister, parliamentary committee, federal minister and shadow, and your federal member as appropriate.)

2. Speak up if infrastructure is unsafe (like walking to public transport) and suggest solutions to the problem. It may as simple as lighting, gardens, artwork or making attractive to broader community use.

3. Participate in NGOs contributing to international debates for shelter for all, safe climate sensitive-infrastructure, social collaboration, environmental stewardship, and good local governance.  We won’t change policy if we don’t do it in our backyard first.)

4. Support women in professional decision-making roles by providing informed research and community voice to important local policies and practices, so they have credible evidence.

5. Encourage girls and women to study in professions that practice sustainable development (not the unsustainable method), and get involved with community wellbeing.

6. Change the way you behave to reflect a regenerative attitude and leave an honourable legacy.

To leave no-one behind, we need to build modern, sustainable cities. To survive and prosper, we need new, intelligent urban planning that creates safe, affordable and resilient
cities with green and culturally inspiring living conditions. Secretary General UN Antonio Guterres

 

NCWQ Habitat Report: March 2019

By Dr Donnell Davis (Queensland Panel)

This year the Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW63) has a theme that extends to inclusive infrastructure. Because we comprise half the population, women should have a say in the
decisions for a vital and responsive living environment appropriate for women, children, elders, and vulnerable communities. This extends to policies, processes and community practices for:

  • Town planning (urban design and regional planning)
  • Social, technological and economic infrastructure (schools, hospitals, transport systems, access to essential services, wifi-communication technology, accessible community meeting and eating places, green recreational areas and safe public spaces)
  • Family-friendly design (so kids can play safely)
  • Intergenerational access – universal design (for elderly and impaired)
  • Culturally inclusive principles
  • Design for crime prevention, vitality for safe mobility, visitation and daily use
  • Micro-architecture for homes, multiple dwellings, intensive housing
  • Macro-planning for preventing and mitigating climate disasters
  • Regional food production for urban populations

This requires a feminist lens: through concentrated input by women to go further than the engineering excellence and atheistically acceptable, beyond bean-counting for project cost-benefit,
towards inclusive community benefit, regional resilience and national security. Furthermore, following the UNODC work on Femicide, there are some basic improvements that can be actioned with community and professional education and very little funding. This year, CSW63 is allowing evidence to the commission through inclusive long distance virtual means. A report Preventing Femicide through Urban Design (Multiple Scale toolkits)’ is being presented. This is scheduled for COAG meetings in Australia after a previous effort in 2015 resulted in only 3 of the 8 states endorsing support. There is more evidence than ever for the need for family safety. One in five families endures domestic violence (Australia), urban mobility is a perceived high risk for women, and globally 72% of those who die from climate extreme events are women.

A summary of the report delivering to CSW63 Preventing Femicide through Urban Design includes:

Assumptions:
(1) Safety for women = safety for all
(2) Women’s voices speak for children, elders, disabled, vulnerable, voiceless communities
(3) Safety for women is broader than harm arising from crime against the person
(4) Harm includes loss of basic essentials, like safe shelter, safe food, clean air, clean water, and
protection from existential threats of danger, disaster and disease.

Summary of Toolkits


So what is happening in Queensland? This month more women were appointed to the Building Services Board. We seek 50/50 parity. However, even though more women are graduating as qualified professionals in the urban design disciplines (with town planning, architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, social planning, economic development, water management, climate science, participatory decision-making, environmental law, regional governance, sustainability policy and ethics), less are actively working and getting paid for contributions in this space.

More women are community volunteers, but their voices are not being taken seriously. Even in the Planning and Environment Court, there are barriers to participation. So femicide is not being addressed adequately under our current systems, in a way that incorporate women’s voices.

This matter needs to include other ministerial portfolios in order to advance inclusive infrastructure.

Habitat Report: The case of SEQ: localising international policy SDSG11

Formal concise report from Habitat3 for South East Queensland

 

This UNAAQ event resulted from culmination of 5 years of preparation to endorse Sustainable Development Goal 11 on cities; the 2-year drafting of the New Urban Agenda ‘Habitat3 toward 2035’, and the release of the 2016 draft South East Queensland Regional Plan that envisages 50 years. South East Queensland comprises 6 cities, 17 urban centres, 47 towns and many rural centres, inside an area equivalent to the Netherlands. SEQ is benchmarked against 25 other regions over the past 20 years and our performance has been variable. A range of tools has been instrumental in reporting our stewardship and quality of life. However, SEQ trends are worrying.

79 people from different backgrounds, disciplinary and community roles participated throughout the day. One third of the room represented ‘under 35 year olds’ and about half the room identified as ‘over 50’. Apart from community leaders, there were planners, scientists, architects, engineers, landscape designers, urban professionals, teachers, lawyers, business owners, health and emergency services professionals.

A background paper (attached) was provided to all participants in conjunction with a full set of NUA policy and practice statements that institutionalise action for shared governance and culturally appropriate implementation. This allowed great speed of learning as our 16 speakers and 4 moderators shared their expertise and passion for the better future.

Aunty Ruby gave an indigenous traditional acknowledgement also set the scene for gender sensitive pathways for intergenerational, intercultural and interdisciplinary methods for our common future. Song-lines were gifted to us as the SEQ anthem and sung by the Rachel Hore choir. This is hot-linked in the papers with the Earth Charter art by Graham Payne (community of life drawing). During the afternoon, slam poetry was written for us and shared in the final panel session. This is being gifted to us as a special memento and as a motivational tool to go forward for the next 5 years. 4 Expert Panels each answered set questions to focus our thoughts:

  1. Evolution and achievements for SEQ
  2. The future prospects and possibilities (active Habitat 3 representatives)
  3. Practices and innovative implementation – case studies
  4. Shared governance – roles and responsibilities

After lunch Uncle Desmond gave a welcome to his country. Then participants chose what topics they wished to pursue to advance the NUA themes in SEQ. These included (1) access to affordable housing; (2) empowering vulnerable peoples and the working poor through sharing food, assets, public assets, public transport, and basic human needs (3) jobs and entrepreneurship (4) Greenspace stewardship (5) Protecting public space for use by everyone (recreation, community farm, non- privatisation of river/ beach access) (6) regenerative urban design for climate (7) shared governance framework for SEQ accountability, (8) inclusive infrastructure investment.

After teamwork, a spokesperson shared their innovative approaches that would work here. Wow! People socialised considerably before heading home.

The outcomes included greater goodwill and draft ‘We the Peoples of SEQ Declaration’ to shepherd local action. This will be reviewed over the next 5 years (probably this anniversary date). Special thanks go to UNAAQ team and partners.

For more info & copies of any documents/ photos/ u tube/ reports contact qldpres@unaa.org.au

Habitat Report: May 2014

bigstock-Homelessness-In-A-Big-City-52521229

By Mark McDonnell

Why do older women (55yrs +) become homeless?

If you read the literature on older women and homelessness, you will find a range of reasons offered to explain this situation. These reasons include:

  • Women’s quest independence (personal and financial)
  • The decline of the nuclear family
  • Increase in the number of single person households
  • Our increasing longevity
  • Migration
  • Structural disadvantage entrenched within our political and social system
  • Violence
  • Mental illness
  • Substance abuse
  • Intellectual disadvantage
  • Reduced public housing
  • The high cost of rental accommodation
  • Reduced service options available to homeless and disadvantaged women
  • Multiple disadvantages within someone’s life
  • Divorce
  • Death of a spouse
  • Family Crisis etc.

And these reasons are all valid. In an ideal world it would be useful to be able to prioritise these issues, so we know where it would be most productive to direct our resources.

A recent report by the University of Queensland uncovered the top 10 reasons cited by women seeking help for homelessness. These reasons came from unpublished data from the Aust. Institute of Health and Welfare 2012.

These self-reported reasons are:

  1. Domestic Violence (26%)
  2. Financial Difficulties (17%)
  3. Not Stated (12%)
  4. Inadequate Dwelling Conditions (9%)
  5. Housing Crisis (8%)
  6. Other (6%)
  7. Housing Affordability Stress (5%)
  8. Previous Accommodation Ended (3%)
  9. Relationship Breakdown (3%)
  10. Mental Health Issues (2%)

This list is helpful but it has some limitations. Self reporting is not always a reliable way to identify core issues.

I am aware that people seeking help often tell the organisation what they think the organisation wants to hear. For these people, this is the way they “play the game”. It is a matter of survival.  I have been told by numerous homeless and disadvantaged people in West End that if you want help from a particular organisation, you have to tell them that you are sleeping rough. They contend that if you don’t, they probably won’t help you. In the limited number of times I have referred people to this organisation, this advice is sound.

In the previous self-reported reasons for women seeking homelessness, clearly Domestic Violence is an issue. However the self-reported 2% mental health issues seems low. I wonder how much of the financial difficulties were caused by mental health issues. How much of the Housing Affordability Stress was related to financial difficulties or mental health issues?

On top of this, these reported personal reasons may not take into consideration the larger issues of reduced public housing, low level of financial social support (eg. Newstart Allowance), reduced service options for homeless people and the impact of multiple disadvantages within someone’s life.

Older homeless women identified that their greatest need was for “General Assistance and Support”. This need was listed more than 3 times the amount of the next identified need of “Special Services”. “Long Term Housing Needs” and “Sustained Tenancy and Eviction Prevention” came in as the 3rd and 4th greatest identified need. This is consistent with what I have observed. Homeless people frequently need long term general support. Yes, they have periods of identified crisis within their life, but they nearly always need ongoing general assistance and support. If they can receive this ongoing general assistance and support, many crisis can be avoided or minimised. Frequently, homelessness is a chronic condition. You can’t give a magic pill and expect it to go away. Like diabetes, epilepsy and high blood pressure, homelessness needs ongoing support and maintenance. There maybe periods of acute episodes, but if you keep conditions supported and under control, they are less like re-occur as frequently or as intensively.

Given the wide variety of possible causes and influences on homeless and disadvantaged women, what is the best way to help them?

In a perfect world, the answer is – Permanent Supported Housing. There is much literature and personal experience to support this. If this is not possible, then we still need to do the same things that occur within that supported environment.

·         That is:  Develop rapport with the client.

·         Work with them on a one on one basis to address their issues.

·         Develop a good understanding of all their issues (assessment), so appropriate referrals can be made.

·         It must be understood though that these people often are not mentally strong. So to tell them to seek advice from XYZ organisation may not be helpful. They may need to be supported and taken to the place that provides the assistance.

·         It is important to realise also that there are frequently no quick fixes. The bureaucracies can work very slowly. People in need of help can be confused and reluctant to take good advice.

·         Be patient and understanding. Take your time. Don’t expect miracles to happen over night.

Remember “the journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step” (Lao-tzu 650 BC).

 

 Habitat Adviser Report May14