April 2023 Guest speaker, Frances Crimmins, CEO of Canberra YWCA

Vintage Reds were happy to welcome Frances Crimmins once again to speak to us. She has been the CEO of YWCA here since 2013.

Frances addressed the group on the increase in the numbers of older homeless women. The YWCA turns away many women, as they have no way of coping with the numbers experiencing homelessness. Many are victims of domestic violence and poverty, and like many other homeless people, are accommodated temporarily in the homes of relatives, couch surf with friends, sleep in their cars (some with children).

The YWCA has a strong advocacy role, are pushing for increases in social housing, and are working on lifting pay for the community sector after they had a freeze on funding.

Their focus is on the “missing middle housing.” Their Ainslie housing project will be completed in December. Frances noted that both the Commonwealth and ACT Governments plans for increased social housing are extremely inadequate and will not meet the demand. She also note that the Federal Government’s National Housing Plan will be released before the next election.

The meeting discussed issues affecting housing supply, the exorbitant cost of buying and renting housing.

Frances drew our attention to Catherine Robertson’s definition of what it means to end homelessness, from Ken Kraybill in the US, and suggested that we check it out. We did: and found this:

The first home comprises our self and our identity, and includes physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual characteristics of this home;

The second home is the place where we live, including not only the physical structure but also the living environment within which it is located (the absence of a second home might cover primary, secondary and tertiary definitions of homelessness); and

The third home, the larger community within which our first and second homes are located.

Frances added a fourth:

The fourth home for First Nations people is being at home on country and connection to country.

Jane thanked Frances for her comprehensive address.