December 11, 2013
The Canadian Housing and Renewal Association – an active partner of ours at the Canadian Homelessness Research Network – posted a great infographic on National Housing Day, Nov. 22nd titled “The State of Housing in Canada”. The infographic highlights key points on affordable housing data across the country and builds on past research, including their affordable housing fact sheet from 2011.
There are strong links between housing and homelessness. Research shows that a lack of affordable housing can affect other areas of daily living including food security, education and health care.
Professor David Hulchanski from the University of Toronto said a few years ago, “We need to separate out the one common feature shared by all homeless people from all the other complex social situations associated with the word homelessness. The best summary of the core of the problem came from long-time U.S. housing researcher and activist Cushing Dolbeare about 10 years ago. It is a statement I quote often.”
“The one thing all homeless people have in common is a lack of housing. Whatever other problems they face, adequate, stable, affordable housing is a prerequisite to solving them. Homelessness may not be only a housing problem, but it is always a housing problem; housing is necessary, although sometimes not sufficient, to solve the problem of homelessness.”
It is impossible to think about solutions to homelessness without also thinking about solving the affordable housing shortage in this country.
Some key facts from the infographic:
- 1 in 4 households live in unaffordable housing. Of this number, 37% of households receiving subsidized rent still find their housing to be unaffordable, as do 40% of non-subsidized renters and 18% of homeowners.
- As Canadian housing policy has changed over the years that has been a decrease in the number of social housing units receiving federal funding including a loss of 18,400 units between 2011 and 2013.
- 1 in 3 Canadians rent.
- Only 10% of the housing built in the past 15 years has been rental housing.
- Rents rose 2.7% but wages only 1.9% rose between 2012 and 2013.
This is great and informative research. Similar research has been done in other countries including the United States and Australia which indicate this phenomenon is not unique to Canada. Since the “right to housing” is guaranteed in Article 25 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is well past time to address the issue.
December 10, 2013
For human rights advocates, December 10th is like New Years Eve only without the obligatory champagne, Dick Clark’s Time Square countdown, and a morning-after-the-night-before commitment to go to the gym more often. Human rights day is a marker. It provides a moment for advocates to pause, reflect on the year past and resolve to continue to do the work necessary to improve the lives of those who are most disadvantaged. Some years it’s much harder than others to celebrate and make new resolutions because, just like New Year’s Eve, December 10th can bring on bad memories of lost opportunities, disregard, and retrogression. Overall, for those who are homeless and for those of us committed to having Canada uphold its domestic and international human rights obligations regarding the right to adequate housing, 2013 doesn’t offer much, if anything, to celebrate. So, what happened in 2013 to make it a bummer year for housing rights? My list includes three significant events perpetrated by the Government of Canada:
- Model human rights legislation addressing inadequate housing and homelessness was defeated. In February 2013, Bill C-400, a private member’s bill which provided a human rights framework for a national strategy to address inadequate housing and homelessness, was defeated in the House of Commons, despite the fact that the Bill curried widespread civil society support across Canada, and amongst all of the opposition parties.
What made this defeat so particularly disappointing was that the Government of Canada, in cahoots with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) (a supposedly arms length Crown corporation) mischaracterized the Bill to ensure its defeat. In particular, a Cabinet Minister purposefully misled the public and fellow Parliamentarians by asserting that Bill C-400 was a spending bill, focused solely on the provision of social housing that would, according to CMHC, cost taxpayers billions of dollars. In fact, Bill C-400 simply called on the federal government to convene a meeting of all relevant stakeholders to draft a national housing plan based in international human rights law aimed at solving homelessness and addressing inadequate housing in Canada. It did not focus on a narrow solution, such as social housing, rather it called for a coherent strategy across the country.
The defeat of the bill by Conservative Parliamentarians, without any comparable legislative or programmatic alternatives, was a shameful and direct attack against the human rights of the most marginalized groups in Canada, those who are homeless.
- The Ontario Superior Court released a decision prohibiting disadvantaged groups from relying on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to address inadequate housing and homelessness. This September 2013 judgement arose from the historic Charter challenge launched by the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) and 4 homeless individuals who filed a Notice of Application with the court alleging that both the Governments of Canada and Ontario have violated their rights under section 7 (life, liberty and security of the person) and section 15 (equality) of the Charter by creating and maintaining conditions that lead to and sustain homelessness. The two Governments responded by filing a motion asking the court to strike down the case PRIOR to a proper hearing with evidence about the harm suffered by homeless people and the barriers to getting the government to act. The message from both Governments is very clear: the human rights enshrined in the Charter - like the right to life – are not available to protect homeless people and compel government action, even if people are dying in the streets as a result of decisions made by governments. This position taken by Ontario was particularly troubling in light of Premiere Wynne’s public resolve that the federal government adopt a national housing strategy. It’s hard to know what’s worse: Governments who want to deny homeless people access to the courts to claim their rights, or judicial decisions that support them?
- The Government of Canada categorically rejected recommendations made by the United Nations Human Rights Council that it should adopt national strategies to address poverty, homelessness and hunger. In April 2013 Canada’s human rights record was reviewed for a second time by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). The Universal Periodic Review or UPR, as it's called, is the most significant review of Canada’s compliance with international human rights. During the UPR several States expressed real concern with poverty, homelessness and hunger in Canada in light of the country’s affluence and suggested Canada adopt national strategies to address these social rights deprivations, as a first step in meeting their international human rights obligations. In September 2013 Canada replied to the HRC by rejecting these key recommendations. Instead, the Government adopted a self-righteous stance, asserting that existing policies and approaches are sufficient – despite the fact that it is those very policies and approaches that have helped to create alarming rates of poverty, homelessness and hunger in one of the richest countries in the world.
Looking to the year ahead it’s unimaginable that things could get any worse. The Government of Canada spent 2013 slamming doors in the faces of homeless and poor people at every turn: the legislature is not the place to defend the rights of the homeless, the Charter and the courts are off limits and the international community is equally shut out. Each of these events is an attempt to render invisible and inaudible the most disadvantaged groups in Canada. So, what are my December 10th resolutions? Though repeated trips to the gym might help with stress levels, I don’t suspect that being fit will help overcome these setbacks. No. I’ve got just one resolution on my list: I’m going to work shoulder to shoulder with colleagues across the country to pry those closed doors open, armed with the primacy of human rights for ALL people in Canada.
Leilani Farha, is the Executive Director of Canada Without Poverty – Advocacy Network. She has a long history promoting the right to adequate housing, equality and non-discrimination in housing in Canada and internationally. Prior to joining Canada Without Poverty, Leilani was the Executive Director of CERA - the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation for 10 years. Leilani has extensive experience addressing homelessness, poverty and inequality in Canada through advocacy, casework, litigation, research and community based work. She has been at the forefront of applying international human rights law to anti-poverty issues in Canada, and is known internationally for her work on housing rights and women’s economic and social rights. Leilani recently became the first recipient of the Spirit of Barbra Schlifer Award, which recognized the work she has done to tackle systemic barriers and inequality that result in violence against women and housing rights violations.
December 09, 2013
Last week Joy Connelly recounted the availability of government services and affordable housing in the 1950s and 60s and how these once plentiful services look today. The best way to make sense of today's affordable housing shortage is to understand how policy has shifted in Canada over the years. That is just what this chapter on housing in this new How Ottawa Spends book does by looking at Ottawa's housing policy over the past 7 years and comparing it to trends over the past 60.
On December 6th, to commemorate the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, Sheryl Lindsay contributed to our weekly "Ask the Hub" post. She addressed the pressing concerns surrounding violence against homeless women while looking at the information provided by the YWCA in their Housing First, Women Second report. Although there is much work to be done to ensure that poverty isn't a sentence of sexual exploitation or death for homeless women, there are multi-service agencies out there, such as Sistering and Street Health, who work to assist women in need.
Highlighting Campaign 2000's fight to end child and family poverty, our infographic post last week drew light to government inaction on child poverty in Canada. In 1989, the Canadian House of Commons aimed to end child poverty by 2000. Yet in 2013 we are still faced with reports, like this one from Nova Scotia, indicating that despite having full employment, families still can't get out of poverty. Or this report by the Ontario Association of Food Banks that found that 130,000 children under 18 used food banks on a monthly basis. Just as this "Towards a Poverty Elimination Strategy for The City of Toronto" document points out, there needs to be government funding and proactive government support in areas like employment, income, support, housing, community services and support programs, and public transit to curb serious poverty in Canada.
December 06, 2013
As we mark December 6th this year, the answer to the question above is a resounding yes. Women on the street face higher rates of violence than women who are housed. Aboriginal women in particular are over represented in the homeless population and are 3 times more likely than non-Aboriginal women to experience violence. Further to that women who are homeless in many, if not most instances, have histories of violence in their childhoods and/or in their adult lives prior to losing housing. In fact, fleeing domestic violence and and/or young women fleeing violent/abusive family situations is a leading contributing factor to women’s homelessness. The YWCA’s recent brief “Housing First, Women Second?” reports that the vast majority of homeless women have experienced some form of violence be it physical, sexual, emotional, community violence, intergenerational trauma as well as experiences of war. This in turn leaves women vulnerable to re-victimization on the street compounded by the violence and trauma of homelessness itself.
It is also important to reflect on some of the recent history surrounding women’s homelessness. On December 17th, 1985 in a back laneway in downtown Toronto, a homeless woman Drina Joubert, froze to death in the cab of an abandoned pick- up truck. Drina was only 41 years old and had a history of serious mental health and substance use issues. She had been making a home in the abandoned truck as she was often refused entry to the women’s shelters at that time due to drinking alcohol. Rules at shelters at that time were that if the staff could smell alcohol on someone’s breath, they could refuse admission. Drina had been in and out of the psychiatric, correctional and shelter systems for many years. While Drina’s death was deemed to be from exposure on that cold December night 28 years ago, she had also experienced the violence of being a homeless woman living on the streets of Toronto. Her death and the subsequent inquest that followed exposed a system that was fractured and lacking in terms of safe space for women experiencing homelessness.
Forward ahead to 2013, a woman who is homeless and sleeping on the steps of a local downtown agency mere blocks from where Drina’s death occurred, is raped twice by two different men. This is caught on a surveillance camera outside of the agency and there are yet to be any arrests made in this case. We must ask ourselves what if anything has changed since Drina’s death, as such violence due to lack of access to safe space continues to happen? Toronto is in the midst of a crisis situation with regard to shelter bed capacity and lack of safe and affordable housing. Addressing the lack of access to women-only safe space is one necessary step in the eradication of violence against women generally.
It’s not that there wasn’t ongoing evidence in the ensuing 28 years from Drina’s death to the sexual assault of the woman sleeping on the stairs that alarm bells and warnings have not been sounded. In 2007, two Toronto agencies, Street Health and Sistering, released a report on the effects that homelessness has on women’s health and well-being. The results of the report indicated that 37% of the homeless women interviewed reported being physically assaulted in the past year, and 21% reported being sexually assaulted. This report combined with Dr. Stephen Hwang, of St. Michael’s Hospital, 2004 study, that homeless women between the ages of 18-44 have a 10 times higher mortality rate than women the same age that had safe housing showed a bleak picture. The women in that study were experiencing the violence of the street combined with serious mental health and substance use issues.
I work at Sistering, a Toronto women’s drop-in and multi-service organization, where we hear stories every day from women who are homeless and have been assaulted on the street. As well, many women will find refuge from the street by sharing space with men that either demand sex in exchange for shelter and/or behave violently toward the women.
There is much work that needs to be done to create safe space for homeless women. There needs to be a range of housing and supports. This would include women-only easily accessible emergency space to permanent housing with everything from high supports to independent units. This would go a long way to keeping women safe. Equally important, is to acknowledge the systemic nature of violence in women’s lives, and that while homeless women may have higher rates of violence they also were likely to be assaulted in their childhood and adult homes, and that the issue of violence against women runs deep in our society. As we look to provide safe spaces for homeless women we must also continue to work to change the overall structural conditions that endanger women lives and strive to create a culture where violence against women is completely unacceptable.
Sheryl Lindsay is the Executive Director of Sistering a multi-service organization serving women whose lives have been affected by homelessness, poverty, violence, trauma and mental health and substance use issues in Toronto.
Sheryl is a social worker who has been working primarily with women who are experiencing homelessness, poverty, trauma, mental health and addictions issues for the over 20 years. Sheryl has co authored two research papers on homelessness and mental health. She has a strong background in the process of outreach and engagement in order to connect with women who have been excluded from mainstream organizations. She is also involved in advocacy work on broader systemic issues of decolonization, poverty, homelessness, and violence against women.
This post is part of our Friday "Ask the Hub" blog series. Have a homeless-related question you want answered? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide a research-based answer.
December 04, 2013
Campaign 2000 is an organization committed to ending child and family poverty in Canada. The name refers to a resolution made by all parties in the Canadian House of Commons in 1989 to end child and family poverty by the year 2000. As this infographic illustrates, there are more families living in poverty in 2013 (967,000) than there were in 1989 (912,000).
As the infographic shows, there are two choices facing the federal government at the moment. One direction leads to greater poverty (including food insecurity and homelessness) while the other leads to a vision to better the lives of Canadian children.
If the road to poverty reduction is not chosen then more children and their families will become homeless and Canada’s reputation as a caring nation will suffer. And remember – reducing child poverty is about reducing poverty for their adult caretakers. Children – with the exception of homeless youth (see below) - aren’t poor on their own!
As the infographic tells us, by next year even getting a job unfortunately doesn’t even necessarily guarantee you will be earning a wage high enough to support living expenses. Campaign 2000 predicts that 1 in 3 children living in poverty will have a full-time working parent. This is one example of a structural problem that has to be addressed by all levels of government. Reducing child poverty is about improving wages, more full-time jobs, increased benefits, childcare and rent supplements.
As a nation, Canada is becoming increasingly unequal. Part of my interest in youth homelessness has to do with addressing this inequality. Youth homelessness can lead to adult homelessness which can perpetuate the cycle of child poverty.
There have been several organizations and programs that have created successful interventions for youth experiencing homelessness. Raising the Roof released a report called ‘It’s Everybody’s Business’ that looks at organizations that have successfully partnered with the private sector. After addressing youth’s basic needs and providing some training and skills development as necessary, organizations partnered with the private sector for job placements. After completing the programs, 19% of youth had plans to complete a form of education and another 19% planned to complete a form of education while working. Other youth expressed interests in finding other employment and opening their own businesses.
Despite all of the difficulties that are faced by youth experiencing homelessness, and poverty, there is a huge amount of resilience. Despite someone’s current position, there is always opportunity to build on the many positive attributes, skills and interests that people have. The problem is that people aren’t given enough opportunity to overcome situations that they have been placed in.
December 03, 2013
I was born in 1955. For most of us, the 1950s conjure up an image of shiny faces in shiny new suburban homes. Mom is in the kitchen, dad is at work, and kids play happily on the front lawn.
It seems odd that an era so beloved of conservatives could be affordable housing heaven. Yet I believe it was a time when the modest requests of today’s housing activists — re-invest housing savings to preserve our housing stock; create new homes for the next generation – would not receive the chilly response they do today. They would have been seen as simple common sense.
What did the 1950s have that we don’t have now?
Confidence in government spending
We often think of the 1950s as the time when people worked hard and stood on their own two feet. But what I remember is the proliferation of government services – a continuation of government investment that helped to dig Canada out of a depression in the 1930s, bankrolled World War II and then settled almost one million returning soldiers in the 1940s and 1.5 million immigrants in the 1950s.
For my family, those government services included free start-up assistance that helped veterans like my dad establish their own businesses; Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation loan guarantees that allowed my low-income parents to buy a home; the baby bonus; free and easily accessible medical care, including a nurse in every school; and a community centre that offered an astonishing array of fitness, language and recreation programs for a family membership of 50 cents/year.
At a time when a high school student could earn $100/week at a summer job, tuition at the University of British Columbia was $453/year. If you could live at home, as I could, you could graduate with money in the bank, simply through summer jobs.
Through this entire period there also were massive investments in public infrastructure: schools, hospitals, roads, sewers, freeways, bridges – all the things that are now demanding re-investment.
I may have been too young to follow adult conversations, but I don’t recall anyone complaining about “tax and spend” governments. Universal programs were seen as a natural part of the good life, and so naturally, governments spent money on them. That’s what government was for.
Effortlessly affordable housing
Our family got help buying a home, but we didn’t need much help. That’s because private market housing was affordable to all but the poorest Canadians.
In the 1950s, the rule of thumb was that housing should cost no more than 20% of a family’s income. (In 1969, the average Canadian household expenditure on housing was 17%.) 
Today the standard has jumped to 30%. Even so, 25% of all Canadian households – and 40% of tenants – pay more than 30% of their income on housing.
Here in Toronto, the median family income was $67,740 in 2011 and the average price of a Toronto home was $465,000. (It’s now up to $539,058). The median income for an individual in 2011 was a demoralizing $22,900 and the average rent for a one-bedroom Toronto apartment was 1,081.
In other words, in 2011 Jill Average paid 57% of her monthly gross income for the average one-bedroom apartment. As for Joe and Jane Family, even if they have no debts and can pull together an entire year’s income for a downpayment, CMHC’s mortgage calculator says the most they can pay for a house is $301,000. Since 2011, the situation has only become worse.
And back in the 50s? My dad’s low-wage-but-union job could support a four-person family in a nice three-bedroom house. My own first apartment in 1975 – a one-bedroom attic with an ocean view — cost $130/month including utilities. With an entry-level job paying $600/month, I was socking away savings by my 21st birthday. No wonder my generation is the rich one.
Hope, security, community
Does anyone else have the sense that mental illness is on the rise?
It’s something I hear all the time from social housing providers. Ordinary public and non-profit housing is discovering more and more applicants have some form of mental illness or addiction. (It’s not just Toronto either. I was just on the phone to a social housing waiting list administrator in another province. She tells me there used to be 10 healthy seniors for every person with a mental or physical disability applying for singles housing. Now the ratio is 1:1.)
I spent a couple of hours trying to find incidence data to compare the 1950s to today and couldn’t find it – except to learn that Canada’s suicide rate jumped 27% from 1955 to 2008.
But I can’t help observing that many of the hallmarks of mental health recovery – hope, a secure base, supportive relationships – seem to be in shorter supply in 2013 than they were in the 1950s and 60s, especially for young people. According to last weekend’s Globe, “a loneliness crisis is looming.” Job security is obsolete, and housing security is increasingly fragile.
Right now, we are turning to our health system and social housing system to redress the problems. The mental health sector does need more resources. But programs designed to “fix” individuals cannot remedy a hopeless, insecure or lonely society. That takes collective action on a bigger scale.
Why do we put up with it?
In 2013, any proposal to increase government spending, to make housing more affordable, or to promote a more equitable and communitarian society is immediately dismissed. We act as if these are wild-eyed left-wing ideas – impossible to implement.
But they are possible. We know it, because we’ve done it before.
I am no economist, and I don’t really know how restore the standard of living we took for granted a generation ago. But I do know that the first step is to stop treating the status quo as normal or inevitable.
The status quo is not normal. It is not inevitable. And we could do so much better. And if you don’t believe me, go ask your mom.
This post originally appeared on Joy's blog, Opening the Window. Republished with permission.
http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/statistics/facts2010/permanent/ In 1957, Canada welcomed 282,164 immigrants, or 1.7% of the population. By way of comparison, in 2010 we received 280,681 immigrants or 0.8% of the Canadian population.
 For a fascinating look at how attitudes have changed, see this Canadian Army newsreel lauding family allowances: “Now the burden of child maintenance will be distributed among all the people of the Dominion.”
December 02, 2013
On November 25th we observed International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This infographic demonstrates the connections between violence against women and homelessness. All Our Sisters is an initiative put on by the London Library in response to a lack of women's only shelters. Thus far it has formed a network that reaches out to women experiencing homelessness and aims to end homelessness for women in Canada.
Often when we think of people being homeless, we don't think of those who are affected in rural communities. This research paper seeks to provide those communities with basic information on existing support systems, factors that contribute to women's decisions to leave or stay in their communities, and needed supports for women to live in a healthy and safe environment within or outside of their communities.
Researchers at the University of Toronto are in the news with some of their findings on the relationship between health and wealth. For years we've known that poverty affects human health in a variety of ways. This latest study by Dr. Stephen Hwang finds that doctors are more likely to give first-time appointments to high income patients than low income patients. Also, a report by Dr. Richard Glazer indicates that immigrants living in low-income areas that are less geared towards physical activity are three times more likely to develop diabetes.
This new report looks at interactions between the Toronto homeless population and frontline health services in the city and finds that homeless adults disproportionately use emergency services. The actual cost of keeping our current system that turns people to ER visits far outweighs possible policy alternatives. For more information check out our Cost of Homelessness report.
Lately, poverty indicators in Canada have been rising. This recent report on Toronto indicates that 9 out of 10 families living in low-income rental buildings are at risk of homelessness. In Ottawa, researchers have found that in the past 10 years no progress has been made on ending homelessness. Our current structure leaves cities under capacity to deal with acute and systemic homelessness issues while the problems of homelessness and poverty get deeper and deeper. Leaving cities to tackle the issues has had repercussions. This is visible in the increase of child poverty in Canada, with 1 in 7 children now experiencing poverty. A recent breakdown of the federal government's Economic Action Plan signals that there needs to be a nation-wide plan for tackling homelessness head on and alleviating symptoms of poverty from our society.
November 29, 2013
This post is part of our Friday "Ask the Hub" blog series. Have a homeless-related question you want answered? E-mail us at email@example.com and we will provide a research-based answer.
During our Tweet Chat in October the following question was raised by Social Medicine BC:
The discussion and answers from the panelists included:
Let’s unpack these answers a little more.
A stand-out study in Canada – although the data is getting slightly dated now – is from Street Health in Toronto, entitled “Access to Primary Health Care Among Homeless Adults in Toronto, Canada: Results from the Street Health Survey”. The report looked at the significant barriers people experiencing homelessness face when trying to access health care. One of their findings was that the longer an individual spent on the street the less likely it was that they would have a primary physician. Many homeless people rely on walk-in clinics and emergency rooms for their health care, which is a very expensive means of obtaining treatment. Shelters and homeless-serving agencies can assist by building health care treatment – through mobile clinics, street nurses or staff physicians into their overall service provision planning.
The report also found that lack of an OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) card prevented many people from obtaining necessary treatment. Reducing dependency on the ID card – through barrier-free access to health care – can greatly reduce overall spending on health care, especially if preventative measures are taken into account.
A similar study in Winnipeg, “The Winnipeg Street Health Report 2011”, saw similar issues.
The report found that, “Half of respondents had to see a doctor or medical provider in the past year just to get forms filled in. Fifteen per cent (15%) had to see a medical staff for forms at least three times. With 72% of respondents not having a family doctor or receiving care from a community health clinic, getting all the necessary paperwork complete can be impossible.”
- “Thirty-six per cent (36%) of homeless people we interviewed said they had been judged unfairly or treated with disrespect by a doctor or medical staff at least once in the past year.”
- “Thirty per cent (30%) of respondents believed they should be eligible for disability assistance (that is, they had a disability or serious illness that is continuous or recurrent and it expected to last more than one year) but were not receiving it. “
This short paper, titled “Homelessness and Access to Health Care: Policy Options and Considerations”, looked at “the current health situation of the homeless population in Canada, along with the characteristics of health care use among members of this group…[It provides] an overview of the various policy options that may work to effectively address the unique health issues of the homeless population.”
New research from “The Effect of Socioeconomic Status on Access to Primary Care: An Audit Study” shows that “within a universal health insurance system in which physician reimbursement is unaffected by patients’ socioeconomic status, people presenting themselves as having high socioeconomic status received preferential access to primary care over those presenting themselves as having low socioeconomic status [SES].” In this study, health care practitioners offices were phoned and presented with different scenarios related to economic and health status. Those presenting with a higher SES and lower health concerns were offered appointments more frequently than callers from a lower socioeconomic status who had chronic health issues. This research shows that access is a systemic issue that must be addressed by governments at the provincial/territorial and national levels.
November 27, 2013
November 25 was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This week’s infographic demonstrates the connections between violence against women and homelessness.
Violence against women is connected with homelessness in more than one way. Sixty three percent of women utilizing emergency shelters are accessing shelters designated for women who have been the victim of abuse
. Thirty seven percent of women using emergency shelters are taking refuge in homeless shelters. As well, women who were not victims of violence prior to experiencing homelessness, are sometimes faced with violence once they are without secure housing.
There is also a connection between violence and living on the street. Women without adequate, safe housing are often exposed to risks that associated with surviving on the streets. A 2011 study
by Tyler Frederick found that these risks can be even more pronounced for women who identify as LGBTQ
At the National Conference to End Homelessness, Lisa Pierce and Erica Zarins presented on behalf of All Our Sisters
, an organization based out of London, Ontario. In response to the lack of women-only shelters, All Our Sisters, with the London Library, reached out to women experiencing homelessness. All Our Sisters has formed a network dedicated to ending homelessness for women in Canada. Susan Scott wrote in her 2007 book, “All Our Sisters”
“Some homeless women are visible, but most are far from the public’s eye. For women, there are many ways of being homeless, besides living on the street: staying with a violent partner because she can’t afford to leave; being bound to a pimp or drug dealer; couch surfing from one relative to another; or living in unhygienic, unsafe buildings and/or over-crowded conditions. Home is about safety and homelessness is complex issue.”
This week’s Infographic Wednesday allows us an opportunity to reflect on the ways in which homelessness is connected with violence against women.
November 25, 2013
On Friday, November 22nd we observed National Housing Day. Our "Ask The Hub" post detailed the history of National Housing Day, a day which dates back to the 1998 State of Emergency Declaration when homelessness was declared a national disaster.
A striking report by Emily Paradis found that nine out of ten families living in Toronto’s aging rental apartment buildings “live in severely inadequate housing that fails to meet basic standards of affordability, suitable size, safety, security of tenure, and healthy conditions”. Emily’s report makes it clear that a national housing strategy is needed now more than ever.
Last week's infographic focused on another important day to mark on your calendars, the Transgendered Day of Remembrance. This is a day to not only remember the contributions of the trans community, but to also remember the adversity which trans people face in regards to housing, employment, and healthcare. Alex Abramovich’s post detailed the ways in which transphobia continues to be a major contributing factor to youth homelessness.
We also observed National Addictions Awareness Week last week. This year, the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse focused attention on youth drug prevention. Mental illness and drug abuse as well as unstable home and school environments are just some of the conditions youth face that often pressure them into homelessness.
Melissa Goertzen had an interesting post on the digital information gap in Canada, and how projects like Homeless Nation are innovatively figuring out ways to bridge it.
Speaking of bridging gaps, a new report sheds some light on the one between universities and the communities around them. The report studies a pilot project that partnered university students with community agencies to provide flu vaccinations for the surrounding homeless population.
Another interesting bit of research on communities is this report on Pass it Forward. This concept comes out of the Systemic Barriers to Housing Initiative. Pass it Forward is a tool that supports community capacity in eliminating systemic barriers and changing government policies. It does this by identifying the right people and governmental forums for agencies to effectively bring forward proposals for change. It also provides a starting point for dialogue between community actors and decision makers.