Women’s Resource Centre On Housing

April 25, 2024 | 0 Comments

The Women’s Resource Centre [WRC] said they ”are encouraged to see the issue of affordable housing being discussed on a national level” and wanted to ”add our voice – the collective voice of women in Bermuda – to the conversation.”

A spokesperson said, “The Women’s Resource Centre [WRC] understands the complex issue of housing insecurity and homelessness in Bermuda. Our mission and vision is focused on empowering women and families to live safe, healthy and self-sufficient lives. Housing is an essential component to achieving this.

“We are encouraged to see the issue of affordable housing being discussed on a national level, as it is an issue that impacts many women and families who seek support from our organisation.

“Considering recent discussions highlighted in the media, featuring comments by The Honorable Minister Jason Hayward, Minister of Economy and Labour, we feel it is necessary to add our voice – the collective voice of women in Bermuda – to the conversation.

“We acknowledge the Government’s intention to make affordable housing more accessible for Bermudian families, however, we are concerned that the discussion has not been broad enough.

“Minister Hayward’s remarks at the Progressive Labour Party town-hall event reflect a growing awareness and urgency to address the shortage of affordable housing—a core issue affecting the women we serve at WRC and the families currently participating in our signature programme at the Transformational Living Centre [TLC] for Families.

“The government’s initiative to adjust the tenancy laws and to impose a tax on vacation properties are steps that may result in more housing availability for families. However, this initiative in isolation will not fix the problem of access to affordable housing, because vacation rentals in isolation did not cause the problem.

“The Women’s Resource Centre has been supporting women as they search for adequate and affordable housing, and what we have found is that there is no shortage of available homes. The challenge is that the homes that are available are not affordable. This is an entirely different problem.”

Juanae Crockwell, Executive Director of the Women’s Resource Centre, said: “The housing crisis is complex and in direct connection with the cost of living crisis we are currently experiencing. It will require multiple initiatives, legislative adjustments and policy changes to see long term impactful change for the people of Bermuda.”

“The Government, in their 2023 Speech from the Throne, emphasized tax reform as the key to reducing the cost of living and housing in Bermuda. However, we suggest that reform of regulatory legislation and policy may have a greater impact.”

“There is a pressing need to regulate the rental market in Bermuda. In addition to reform to the Landlord Tenant Act, a review of legislation such as the Rent Increases [Domestic Premises] Control Act 1978 is something that we feel could and should be explored.”

“This current crisis disproportionately affects women, as 82% of single income households are headed by women. The Transformational Living Centre for Families is an example of our commitment to support women and families facing housing insecurity, but there are still many challenges for these families once they leave the safety of our programme.”

Elaine Butterfield, Advisory Board Chairperson for The Transformational Living Centre added that: “Affordable Housing as defined by Real Estate News as housing that costs less than 30% of a family’s gross monthly income. Considering the average gross monthly income for a single mother headed household, compared to the cost of a two-bedroom apartment at $3,000, makes this is out of reach for many in Bermuda.”

“As we prepare for our first cohort to move on to more independent living, we are experiencing first- hand the lack of affordable housing in Bermuda. Even having two moms share a three-bedroom apartment is way out of reach for single moms with children.”

“We welcome further conversation, revised legislation and action toward the realisation of affordable housing in Bermuda. The future of a measurable sector of our families is at stake here. And while we are in discussion, we also need to consider the cost and impact to all of our futures with regard to this critical issue. Economic empowerment must be inclusive of all of us.”

“The Women’s Resource Centre is also sympathetic to the concerns of property owners regarding the reliability and behavior of tenants. At WRC, we believe that education and ongoing support for both parties are key to improving these relationships and changing the prevailing negative perceptions related to renting to single mothers and families.

“As we move forward, we are eager to collaborate with the Government and other stakeholders to explore innovative solutions that align with our mutual goal of increasing the affordable housing inventory. This includes engaging in dialogue to ensure that any new legislation or regulations are practical and beneficial for all parties involved—landlords, tenants, and the community at large.”

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