Free housing for needy single mothers helps them get back on their feet: Study

SINGAPORE – A radical initiative to provide free housing to low-income single mothers for up to two years has found that many of the women were able to find better-paying jobs as a result.

Their families’ well-being improved as well, as they did not have to worry about securing a roof over their heads.

These were among the findings of a study of the Association of Women for Action and Research’s (Aware) Support, Housing and Enablement (S.H.E) Project, which was piloted in 2018 and ended last year.

The initiative saw the gender-equality advocacy group provide single mothers with a place to stay for up to two years, to give them longer-term stability so they can get back on their feet.

Unwed mothers and women who are separated from their husbands were among the beneficiaries.

Aware, which on Wednesday (May 11) released the findings of the study, said other transitional housing programmes typically provide shelter for three to six months.

The group’s head of research and advocacy, Ms Shailey Hingorani, said the project followed a 2016 study by Aware.

The study found that low-income single mothers faced several barriers that kept them from getting housing that is affordable, of reasonable quality and where they can stay for an extended period, instead of having to move frequently.

Aware’s pilot project saw 18 women and 21 of their children live in four apartments, a mix of public housing and condominiums, where each family had a room.

The women also attended programmes run by Daughters of Tomorrow, a charity that helps underprivileged women.

The group helped them develop work-related competencies and financial literacy, among other things.

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The women gave a nominal contribution of $10 per family member each month for their stay, which went to a common fund to cover household expenses.

The initiative was funded by donors but Aware declined to reveal the cost of the project.

A dozen women, who were beneficiaries of the project for more than six months, were the focus of Aware’s study. They had all experienced family violence.

The study found that two-thirds of the women saw better job prospects and the median income among the women rose from $500 a month before they joined the project to $1,150.

The women said they were able to concentrate on finding and holding a job without worrying about paying rent.


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