Across Canada, there are not enough emergency shelter beds for women experiencing homelessness. About 1,000 women and children are turned away from shelters each day. There is an urgent need to change emergency service delivery to better match the right to housing. This Solutions Lab intends to find and address the challenges and opportunities of creating a rights-based housing delivery approach. This includes consideration of gender-based analysis to bring emergency housing rights to women and gender-diverse people across Canada.
3 Key Findings
Bring violence against women and homelessness stakeholders from across the country together to create a service delivery model for emergency shelters that will support those in need.
Develop a roadmap to guide the transformation of service delivery that fosters collaboration between the engaged sectors as well as a solution to use the approach to delivery across Canada.
Understand the challenges and opportunities to consider when creating the service delivery model that addresses key gaps across Canada.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Improving services and support for women and gender-diverse people
In Canada, many women, girls, and gender-diverse people continue to live in unsafe housing due to inequity, discrimination, and violence. These groups experience greater housing need and poverty. Of the 1.7 million people experiencing core housing need in Canada in 2016, 28% of these were women-led households. Data also shows that 27% of women-led, single-parent family households are in core housing need, almost double the rate of men-led households (CMHC, 2019).
Many women and gender-diverse people have few housing options and are left unserved by overwhelmed emergency shelters. Research shows that the policies and practices in the homelessness and violence against women sector sometimes make situations worse for the people they intend to support. Some policies may make housing insecurity worse and increase the risk of violence or exploitation. They can result in the denial of services, banning or even child-parent separation. These include:
- acceptance standards
- shelter rules
- required check-ins
As a result, many women are left to rely on informal networks for housing or engage in dangerous survival strategies to access shelter and meet their basic needs. The need to remain in situations of hidden homelessness places them at risk of exploitation and abuse. It also leaves their needs invisible to normal supports, systems and policy development. This means that while homeless women and gender-diverse people are experiencing some of the greatest housing need, they are often underserved in the homelessness and housing sectors.
To solve this ongoing problem, this Solutions Lab will help to revise policies and practices in the homelessness and violence against women sectors. It will focus on policies and practices that don’t benefit women and gender-diverse people.
This Lab will:
- develop a rights-based approach to emergency service delivery
- increase access to supports and services for women and gender-diverse people who are accidentally being excluded from needed supports
- create alternative shelter policies and practices
- prevent harm that is linked to the current policies and practices related to gender biases
The Lab has 5 phases:
- The Definition Phase includes project planning and a map of stakeholder points of view and will establish an advisory group. This phase will identify and engage stakeholders while creating an agreement on the project approach and process. It will also confirm a baseline understanding of key rights.
- The Discovery Phase includes desktop research on human rights issues and emergency shelters. The research team plans to host focus groups with experts and service providers. This phase will see scenarios created to communicate major human rights issues that need to be solved as part of the Lab.
- The Development Phase will host a workshop to problem-solve the scenarios developed in the previous phase. This workshop will include diverse stakeholders and conclude with the drafting of national standards.
- The Prototype and Test Phase evaluates the national standards and shares them with the advisory group for discussion on the next steps in implementing the standards.
- The Roadmap Phase will communicate a clear and preferred path forward with the national standards created. During this phase, the project team will develop a strategy to implement the standards and share the plan with policymakers and funders for use.
Sharing findings, designs and the roadmap
As part of the final roadmap phase, the Lab will share its findings and the plan for the newly created standards through:
- partner and stakeholder websites
- news updates
The Lab team will also:
- engage the media to bring awareness of the project to a broader audience
- work with partners to share the findings across social media, podcasts
- work with partners to raise awareness amongst government and other groups
- Kaitlin Schwan – Women’s National Housing & Homelessness Network
- Alyssa Brierly – Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation
- Sahar Raza – National Right to Housing Network
- Khulud Baig – Keepers of the Circle
- Jayne Malenfant – Concordia University
- Arlene Hache – Keepers of the Circle
- Hannah Brais – Old Brewery Mission
- Dana Granofsky – BGM Strategy Group
- Faith Eiboff – University of British Columbia
- Alexa Yakubovich – Dalhousie University
Get More Information:
Visit the National Housing Strategy’s Innovation page.
Search our Housing Knowledge Centre for important updates on the progress of this lab.