Women’s homelessness is a crisis in Canada.

Across this country, women-identifying and gender diverse peoples experience some of the most severe forms of housing need. Black women, transwomen, Indigenous women, gender diverse peoples, (dis)abled women, poor women, 2SLGBTQ+ women, sex workers, newcomer women, and younger and older women are all disproportionately affected. Research shows that we are not transitioning women and girls out of homelessness quickly, and in many cases they return to situations of violence, precarious housing, and marginalization. Women face profound violence on the streets and in public systems, and are regularly separated from their children as a result of their housing status. Despite this, the experiences of women or gender diverse peoples remain hidden and are rarely the focus of housing policy, and women-focused services remain underfunded and overcapacity.

It is time for action on homelessness that centres the experiences of women-identifying and gender diverse peoples. Today, we take a step forward with the launch of the Women’s National Homelessness and Housing Network (WNHHN). This Network stands on the shoulders of brave women and gender diverse activists and movement leaders who have been fighting for housing justice for decades. And we want you to join us. In fact, we need you to.

The WNHHN is a collective of diverse women, including those with lived expertise, who are working to eliminate homelessness and housing insecurity for women, girls, and gender-diverse peoples across Canada. Our work reflects Our Principles:

  • We are vocal, determined advocates and allies for the voices of lived experience.
  • We believe that ending homelessness is possible.
  • We serve women and girls who are at risk of or are experiencing homelessness.
  • We believe in the Right to Housing.
  • We employ an intersectional approach.
  • We are committed to equity and inclusivity.
  • We honour trans and gender diverse identities.
  • We are committed to children’s rights.
  • We commit to advancing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Across all of our work, we seek to highlight the expertise of women, girls, and gender diverse peoples that have actually lived homelessness and housing instability. The leadership of diverse people with lived expertise is vital to preventing and ending homelessness. Governments and organizations, including funders, can and must ensure women, girls, and gender diverse peoples with lived expertise hold decision-making power in the design, delivery, and evaluation of homelessness programs and services. We believe the specialized and specific knowledge of lived experts cannot be replicated, replaced, or subverted by academics, service providers, or allies.

By becoming a member of the WNHHN, you will join a coalition of activists, lived experts, and leaders from across Canada who are working to end homelessness and housing insecurity for women, girls, and gender diverse peoples. Through our working groups, Network members can become involved in local and national advocacy, research, public education, community-based work, and cross-country events and collaboration. The WNHHN will also provide members with access to research, resources (e.g., webinars), information, and tools that we hope can help address the gender-based housing inequities they see in their community. We work to extend the impact of our advocacy in collaboration with partners across the country, including the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, and the Keepers of the Circle.

We believe that by building a large, diverse movement of lived experts and their allies, we have the best chance of ending homelessness for women-identifying and gender diverse peoples. And the time for action is now, given this unique moment in Canadian politics. Last year, the National Housing Strategy Act (NHSA) received royal assent, recognizing Canada’s commitment to the right to housing for all. In 2019, the federal government also committed to allocate at least 25% of National Housing Strategy investments to the unique needs of women and girls. In light of these historic commitments, we have a critical opportunity to shape policy solutions that actualize the right to housing for all women, girls, and gender diverse peoples.

We envision a Canada that includes housing justice for all women, girls, and gender diverse peoples. Let’s build on the momentum of the current political moment, and the expertise of diverse lived experts and movement leaders, to move the dial. Please join us.

- The Women’s National Housing and Homelessness Network