Inanna’s House is located in Hilton (just outside Fremantle), and comprises nine co-located homes.
It is a women-managed housing co-operative that was created to house low-income-earning women and their families. It is not a women-only space – men and children live at Inanna’s House too – but it is a women-managed space. Each household must include one member, and that member must be a woman.
Inanna’s House began in 1992, when a group of women met in a local coffee shop to discuss their vision of providing secure, low-cost housing for women where they could also explore their spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, economic and other needs. The group obtained funding, began renovating and building in 1997 and soon the founding members had moved into their new homes.
Inanna’s House is located on a jacaranda-lined street in Hilton. It comprises nine homes, three of which were existing houses that the group lovingly restored, and the remaining six of which are purpose-built rammed-limestone homes. Each home has a carport and private backyard. The front yards are unfenced so that members can wander freely from home to home. The grounds are green and lush and the houses have a vibrant yet peaceful feeling. One of the first things a visitor notices is the abundance and diversity of birdlife feeding and frolicking among the trees and native bushes.
The women-managed policy of Inanna’s House
The rationale behind establishing a women-managed housing co-operative was that women are particularly disadvantaged in traditional housing markets. For example, a greater percentage of women than men are on low incomes, a greater percentage of women than men are on public-housing waiting lists, and women comprise the majority of single-adult households, with or without children.
While the primary aim of Inanna’s House was to provide safe, secure, affordable and supportive housing for women, it was never just about housing. It has always been about empowering women, and its members believe that this vision has been realised.
At least four members, past and present, have completed university degrees while living at Inanna’s House, in most cases while also bringing up children. Members now work in law, counselling, social work, education, housing and the arts, and most agree that having secure, low-cost housing and community support has been integral to their success.
Inanna’s House: resting place for the Goddess
An ancient Sumerian myth tells the story of the great Goddess Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, disempowered and crying out:
I, the woman who circles the land,
Tell me, where is my house?
The bird has its resting place,
But I, my resting place exists not.
The dog lies on the threshold,
But I, I have no threshold.
Although the founding members had no religious intentions when naming Inanna’s House, it now has two areas of sacred space, a labyrinth dedicated to Ishtar and a circle dedicated to Isis. It would seem that if one invokes a Goddess into a place, even unintentionally, She will indeed come.