We need to dig so much more deeply and look at the key triggers which increase women’s vulnerability to housing exclusion. Consistently in England domestic violence, relationship breakdown and poverty negatively impact on women’s housing opportunities. What is alarming is that this appears generally to be the case regardless of an individual country’s overall approach to housing welfare.
Now here’s the real question for the housing profession: how do we minimise the risk of homelessness to women? Before we do anything else, we need to accept that our own housing system reflects broader inequalities at the institutional level. Market-based solutions to housing need value paid employment far above and beyond unpaid labour such as childcare.
Our own housing and homelessness systems are insufficiently flexible to accommodate radical changes of circumstances experienced by thousands of women each year. No one country is perfect. But even a cursory glance at Sweden shows us how gender inequality is characterised as an abuse of power.
Gender equality is embedded in political processes, legislation and socio-economic life. An English man’s home very well might be his castle. But in Sweden, private rents and co-operative housing provide desirable, sustainable alternatives to homeownership.
Angela Maye-Banbury, senior lecturer, Faculty of Development and Society, Sheffield Hallam university