Before finding secure housing Jo slept on friends couches for 10 years. Her situation was grim.  

Jo is a talented artist, but her income was irregular and often low. She simply couldn’t afford secure housing of her own. She started house-sitting – minding peoples’ pets while they went on holiday and couch-surfing at friends’ places.  The constant stress and anxiety of finding shelter took a terrible toll on her mental health. “I was hopping from one sofa to the next… it was awful,” she says, recalling her lowest moment when she couldn’t afford food and didn’t know where her next meal would come from. 

Then Jo was offered some hope. Through her connection to Matrix Guild, an organisation that provides a voice and support for lesbians over 40 and a long-term supporter of WPI, Jo was introduced to Women’s Property Initiatives. In 2017, Jo moved into her own one-bedroom apartment.  

“Since I’ve been living here my mental health has improved and I feel like me again. When I was homeless, I was stressed, agitated…I didn’t feel like me anymore. I didn’t even know who I was. These days I appreciate everything I have – hot water, fresh food that’s not out of a bin, my lovely window that lets in the sunlight. Every day when I come home I say “Hello Jo’s flat”. It sounds silly but it’s my  home and I will never take that for granted.” 

With stable housing, Jo has now become an advocate for homeless women, working with Housing for the Aged Action Group to raise awareness of the issues surrounding older women’s homelessness. Jo recently moved into one of our new Nightingale Village apartments (which received substantial funding from Matrix Guild) because issues with her mobility made the stairs to her original apartment very difficult. She is absolutely loving it.