Right to Adequate Housing: Open Letter
On 27 May 2021 a WEN Café, organised by WEN Wales, took place attended by 38 people/organisations. It considered the Right to Adequate Housing from the perspective of housing as a feminist issue, and had panellists from Shelter Cymru, Tai Pawb and Bawso.
Some core themes emerged. With the support of attendees, we would like to draw these themes to the attention of the Welsh Government as it prepares to move forward with the implementation of the Homelessness Action Group’s (HAG) recommendations and its ambitious agenda for housing and homelessness. The themes were:
- Housing and homelessness are gendered issues impacted by the persistent gender income gap, gender differences in caring responsibilities and women’s experiences of domestic violence and other forms of harassment, abuse and exploitation, including ‘sex for rent’. A gender blind approach is not appropriate.
- More safe and genuinely affordable housing for women is vital. Women typically spend a higher proportion of their income on housing and are more likely to be impacted by the bedroom tax and (unlawful) ‘No DSS’ discrimination by landlords/agents. These are some of the reasons why Shelter Cymru is asking people in Wales to join the Fight for Home
- Better national data on housing need and homelessness disaggregated by gender is required to better understand the impact of the housing emergency on women. We endorse calls for a Welsh Housing Survey.
- In addition, some groups of women are affected disproportionately (e.g. WEN Café attendees highlighted the scarcity of accessible housing for disabled women; and migrant, refugee and asylum seeking women who experience domestic violence and face multiple housing barriers compounded by immigration rules. Better data is required to shape housing and support provision that matches needs across Wales).
- Housing and homelessness issues for women are central to Building Back Better and Fairer from the pandemic. We urge the Welsh Government to consider the gender, and wider equalities, implications as it proceeds to implement the HAG recommendations and build 20,000 social homes for rent.
WEN Wales considers the Right to Adequate Housing to be a fundamental element of its strategic objective of enabling women in Wales to realise their rights. Following this WEN Café, more people/organisations joined WEN Wales in pledging their support for the Right to Adequate Housing campaign, led by Tai Pawb, Shelter Cymru and CIH (Wales) and signed up to Back the Bill.
Catherine Fookes, Director, Women’s Equality Network Wales
Samsunear Ali, Head of National Services, Bawso
Ruth Power, CEO, Shelter Cymru
Alicja Zalesinska, Director, Tai Pawb
Cerys Furlong, CEO, Chwarae Teg
Frances Beecher, CEO, Llamau
Maria Mesa, CEO, Women Connect First
Sara Kirkpatrick, CEO, Welsh Women’s Aid
Rhian Davies, Chief Executive, Disability Wales
Ele Hicks, Engagement, Research and Policy Manager, Diverse Cymru
Leila Usmani, Project Development Officer, Race Alliance Wales
Prof E. J. Renold, Professor of Childhood Studies, Cardiff University
Heidi Lewis, President, Soroptimist International Wales South
Susie Blacklaw-Jones, Retired Police Officer, Soroptimists International Haverfordwest & District
Lynne Tedik, President, Soroptimist International Pontypridd & District Club
Rhina Jones, Soroptimist International
Carys Brown, Soroptimist International Bridgend (South Wales)
Valerie Simpson, President, Soroptimist International Barry & District
Ceri Landers, Retired teacher, Soroptimist Pontypridd
Barbara Sheldrake, Wales South Regional Programme Action Coordinator, Soroptimist International
Dr Rachel Minto, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Cardiff Women’s Aid
Amy Gallivan, IDVA, Cardiff Women’s Aid
Olivia Rose Simpson, IDVA, Cardiff Women’s Aid
Ginger Wiegand, Research and Policy Lead, EYST Wales
Eleri Evans, Chair, Wales Assembly of Women
This open letter was sent to the following:
FAO: Minister for Climate Change, Julie James MS;
CC: Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS ; Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt MS; Chair of the Housing Support National Advisory Board, Jon Sparkes; Welsh Government Directory of Housing and Regeneration, Emma Williams