There is strong evidence of the links between violence, housing instability and homelessness among women and gender-diverse people. Despite this, the homelessness-serving and domestic violence sectors often work separately, with both systems operating at capacity. This results in people being turned way, experiencing stays beyond program limits and other negative outcomes.
The Surfacing our Strengths Solutions Lab will explore promising, culturally appropriate responses for women+ experiencing homelessness. To do this, the Lab will bring together a diverse stakeholder group to learn from other groups in the system. This includes women+ with lived experiences of homelessness and domestic violence. Together, they will co-develop person-centred responses that support safe and stable housing for women+ experiencing homelessness.
3 Key Goals
Explore the challenge of providing women+ with safe and stable housing, emphasizing the voices of those with lived experience.
Strengthen relationships across sectors and perspectives and develop a broad understanding of the system dynamics that influence the issues.
Develop responsive, culturally appropriate and person-centred supports and housing options for women+ experiencing homelessness.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Appropriate housing and support systems for women+
Experiences of homelessness and housing need are not gender-neutral. Gender plays a distinct role in access to safe and stable housing. Women+ (which includes women and people of marginalized gender identities) are particularly vulnerable to homelessness and housing instability. Their identities can also intersect with other factors, such as ethnicity, socio-economic status, disability and experiences of violence. This means they need housing and support solutions appropriate to their distinct needs.
Navigating the homelessness-serving and domestic violence systems, however, can be challenging for women+ experiencing homelessness. This is due to eligibility requirements and limited-service capacity. These barriers can also be compounded by other systems, such as health services and income assistance, and by housing affordability challenges. This can prevent women+ from finding the safe and stable housing that they need.
Exploring culturally appropriate, person-centred responses
The Lab will develop strategies to support safe and stable housing for women+ experiencing homelessness. It will take a system-wide approach, bringing together different sectors and stakeholders, some of whom operate separately. This diverse group will explore culturally appropriate, person-centred responses to supporting safe and stable housing.
The Lab will be conducted over 5 phases:
- The Definition Phase is dedicated to background research and creating an engagement strategy for different stakeholders. The Lab leadership team will be established, stakeholders will be approached and the Lab’s developmental evaluation framework will be created.
- The Discovery Phase will bring together Lab participants from different perspectives and groups. They will explore the issue and arrive at an understanding of the challenges involved. A series of workshops, complemented by participatory research activities, will explore lived experience of the issues and systems involved.
- The Development Phase will see Lab participants move from deepening their understanding of the issue to brainstorming possible solutions. They will be supported to go beyond surface-level interventions to explore ideas that affect the root causes of the challenges. Participants will also work together to identify potential prototype solutions.
- The Delivery and Prototype Phase will involve small prototype teams rapidly testing, adapting and revising prototypes. This will help them determine which ones have the most potential for impact. They will be supported to document their experiments and evaluate their learnings. This will help further refine prototypes.
- The Roadmap Phase will have Lab participants work together to share their findings and explore the results of the prototype tests. They will work together to create a roadmap for the most promising solutions. They also will develop implementation plans for moving them forward. These will be shared with key stakeholders and communities for validation and to engage key supporters before any next steps.
Sharing lived experiences
The Lab will create several different products as it moves through its phases. These include newsletters, a written report on the Lab processes and prototypes and a series of websites and blog posts. At the end of the Lab, arts-based experience sharing will also be encouraged. This will give peer researchers and participants with lived experience a final chance to share their thoughts and experiences through art.
The outcomes of the Lab will be shared by the diverse members of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness (GVCEH). The Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH) will also share the results. Other platforms where the results may be distributed include Homeless Hub, A Way Home Canada and ShelterSafe (Women’s Shelters Canada).
Program: Solutions Labs
Lab Title: Surfacing our Strengths
Location: Victoria, B.C.
Lead Organizations: Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness Society (GVCEH) in collaboration with the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH)
- Capital Regional District (CRD), Regional Housing
- Peers Victoria Resources Society
- Victoria Cool Aid Society
- The Cridge Centre for the Family (The Cridge Transition House for Women)
- Society of St. Vincent de Paul Vancouver Island (SSVP)
- Victoria Native Friendship Centre (VNFC)
- Inter-Cultural Association (ICA)
Solutions Lab Consultant:
- Shift Collaborative
Get More Information:
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website to learn more about the initiatives under the National Housing Strategy.
Search our Housing Knowledge Centre for more information on this lab.