Housing Minister visits new housing for women fleeing domestic abuse

17 April 2024
WiSH property Paul McLennan visit

Today, Cyrenians welcomed Housing Minister Paul McLennan and Daniel Brewer, the CEO of Resonance, to one of the properties recently acquired by the Women in Safe Homes Fund, to urge the government to partner with similar social investment initiatives and funds to increase the supply of housing to people facing crisis.

[Image shows - left to right: Daniel Brewer, Resonance CEO; Wafa Radhi, Senior Key Worker, Cyrenians; Derek McGowan, Service Director for Housing and Homelessness, City of Edinburgh Council; Paul McLennan, Housing Minister; Ewan Aitken,  CEO, Cyrenians; and Amy Hutton, Director of Services, Cyrenians]

The Women in Safe Homes fund was launched as a joint venture between Resonance, a social impact property fund manager, and Patron Capital, a pan-European institutional investor focused on property-backed investments, to address the lack of suitable housing for women in need of a safe place to live. The fund works in partnership with housing partners across the UK who provide specialist wraparound services to tenants, supporting them to rebuild their lives.

As the fund’s first Scottish partner, Cyrenians will be able to provide 30 properties in Edinburgh in this fund, in a model set up specifically to meet the needs and provide safe and secure homes for women who are homeless, having fled an abusive household.

The properties are urgently needed. Edinburgh is in the grip of a housing emergency, with the latest statistics showing that 3,749 households are living in temporary accommodation as of September 2023. Many of these families will be fleeing domestic abuse and in desperate need of permanent accommodation alongside the right support to ensure they have escaped the abuse for good.

The average stay in temporary accommodation – which does not meet the needs of anyone experiencing homelessness - is currently over a year Edinburgh, the longest length of time in Scotland by more than 100 days. This is far too long for anyone, but for women leaving unsafe living situations, being placed in inappropriate accommodation makes it more likely that they will return.

The budget for Scotland’s Affordable Housing Supply Programme has recently been cut by 26 per cent, meaning the supply of social housing will not keep up with the demand. As a result, the housing emergency will deepen, hitting the most vulnerable the hardest, if action is not taken now.

Cyrenians is asking the Scottish Government to consider working with social impact investors to support the delivery of decent, affordable, and stable housing for people facing a housing crisis.

Working with social impact investors, the Scottish Government could drastically reduce the number of vulnerable people and families being housed in temporary accommodation unfit for their needs and help more people – just like the women who will be housed in the Women in Safe Homes fund’s properties.

Amy Hutton, Director of Services at Cyrenians, said:

“It is neither right nor beneficial for women who have experienced domestic abuse to be placed in accommodation which doesn’t feel safe. This situation has the potential to deter women from fleeing an abusive household or potentially drive them back. This project provides a safe space and support to enable women to build a life and future free from domestic abuse.”

Daniel Brewer, CEO, Resonance, said: “The Women in Safe Homes fund is an example of a successful social impact investment model and a collaborative partnership between property fund manager and housing partners with shared values, providing a housing solution, in a specific place, to people facing housing crisis.

Specifically, the Women in Safe Homes fund is proud to be working with its partners across the UK, including Cyrenians in Edinburgh, to provide a sustainable and scalable solution to women’s homelessness. It is enabling women to live their lives free from fear and with support, to be empowered to live their lives how they choose.”

Keith Breslauer, Managing Director, Patron Capital, said: “Sadly millions of women experience domestic abuse, and we know a staggering 70 per cent of survivors face housing needs. This is a sobering reality that highlights the urgency of addressing safe housing for vulnerable women, and why properties like this one in Edinburgh that the Women in Safe Homes Fund has delivered are so important. Together with our partners including Resonance and Cyrenians, we will keep working to empower women to rebuild their lives with dignity.”