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Head Start Homes joins the Wollongong Affordable Housing Program

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A $5 million program to help address the housing affordability crisis and the intergenerational impacts of housing insecurity was signed off by Wollongong City Council on 5 February 2024.   

Not-for-profit community services organisation Head Start Homes provides eligible renters living in the Wollongong local government area with affordable rental housing and a pathway to home ownership.  

Approved participants will rent a property owned by Head Start Homes and managed by participating community housing providers with affordable rent for up to five years while saving and preparing for home ownership.  

Head Start Homes Founder and Managing Director, Stephen Woodlands, said the program was based on the organisation’s vision for a safe and stable home for everyone with fair and practical pathways into home ownership.   

“When you remove housing stress, people’s lives can be transformed in so many ways. This innovative program will give struggling renters in the Wollongong local council area better housing and home ownership outcomes” said Woodlands.  

“Having more safe, stable and affordable homes with fairer pathways into home ownership will also have profound positive flow-on effects for the local community whilst also helping to reduce intergenerational poverty for our clients and their children.   

Woodlands highlighted that the program would run for at least 20 years, with anticipated perpetual benefits due to its recycling nature.   

“Our heartfelt thanks to Wollongong City Council and to our amazing volunteers, staff and supporters including our 100 plus supporter organisations,” he said.    

Woodlands also extended a special thanks to the businesses and charities who supported their tender bid for the program including, Westpac, the Aboriginal Housing Office, Link Wentworth Housing, Habitat for Humanity, Stockland, the Centre for Social Finance law, Impact Investing Australia, Social Enterprise Finance Australia and MinterEllison.   

Wollongong City Councillor Lord Mayor, Gordon Bradbery AM, said he was pleased to see the program start supporting people and families living in the Wollongong Local Government Area to find home security.  

“We have a commitment to supporting the procurement of affordable homes. While affordable housing isn’t something we can directly deliver on our own, by partnering with not-for-profit organisations such as Head Start Homes, Council can help address this enormous challenge.”   

“We look forward to working with Head Start Homes to make a difference.” 

He highlighted that this program will benefit the lives of some Wollongong residents who are facing financial hardship and cannot access safe housing by themselves.  

“This is quite an innovative program and while there’s more work to be done in this space, it will be wonderful to see the long-term benefits of this partnership in action.”  

For more on housing, check out Third Sector’s 6th Annual National Housing and Homelessness Forum.

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.

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