The purpose of this framework is to provide municipalities across Canada a tool that they can adapt to their local setting to end homelessness for women and girls.
Approaches to homelessness in Canada have been going through a significant shift from managing people during their experiences of homelessness to permanent solutions that end homelessness. These solutions take a more comprehensive approach in looking at the root causes of homelessness, and include prevention and rapid intervention. As well, these solutions are largely grounded in the philosophy and practice of Housing First, meaning that individuals are provided with appropriate housing with the right degree of support to sustain this housing with no requirements around treatment or participation in programs.
New approaches to homelessness are proving impactful, with communities seeing individuals who have been chronically homeless obtaining and maintaining housing in the face of significant concurrent addiction and mental health challenges. This has had a number of secondary benefits, including decreased use of emergency services, hospitals, and emergency shelters. However, it has been noted that these approaches have been implemented largely without a gender lens. Best practices in ending homelessness for women and girls have not been included in many community plans, although women are often mentioned as a ‘target’ population.
The majority of communities in Canada now have a community plan on homelessness. More recently, communities have begun to create targeted plans, and plans can be found for youth, First Nations and Aboriginal peoples, and those with mental health challenges. However, in our review we were unable to find specific plans for ending homelessness for women and girls. At a meeting during the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness 2014 conference it was determined that such a plan or framework would be helpful, but it was daunting to consider each community creating their own. Therefore, there was a request that a framework be created for such a plan, and this framework could then be adapted by each community to their local context. What follows is such a framework, and we hope that it proves to be a useful tool for your community.