At Women’s Shelters Canada (WSC), our long-term objective is to bring about systemic change that will allow for greater and better housing options and outcomes for women fleeing violence.

We developed 11 recommendations and an open letter to inform the National Housing Strategy (NHS), which we hope will lead to comprehensive policies and funding opportunities to better support women fleeing domestic violence.

The recommendations are the result of a cross-sectoral roundtable on housing, homelessness, and violence against women (VAW) organized by WSC in June 2017. The roundtable brought together a diverse group of leaders and experts including representatives from the VAW sector, the social and affordable housing sector, the homelessness sector, the anti-poverty sector, academics, and policymakers.

Budget 2017 allocated $11.2 billion towards a variety of initiatives to renew Canada’s affordable housing sector over the next 11 years. The government had indicated that it would announce its NHS in Fall 2018. WSC welcomes the recognition of the links between domestic violence, housing, and homelessness. We are calling on the government to incorporate an intersectional human rights gender lens to the NHS including a gender-based analysis of family violence. Among the reasons for this are the fact that seven in ten people who experience family violence are women and girls, research has shown that the majority of homeless families are led by sole support mothers, and in 2012, sole support mothers were considered the fastest growing demographic accessing homeless shelters (not including VAW shelters).

Women’s Shelters Canada worked with roundtable participants to mobilize around the National Housing Strategy to ensure that domestic violence survivors are a priority. During the month of August 2017, participants and WSC members met with Cabinet Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries across the country to share our recommendations on the NHS. Part of our mobilization included education and awareness about women’s invisible homelessness and the pressing need for the government to support a continuum of housing beyond Housing First. This included dedicated funding for permanent, temporary, and supportive housing provided by VAW services (including second stage and transitional housing) that serves survivors of violence and women coping with mental health and addictions.

NHS Campaign Summer/Fall 2017