While there is a general recognition of the link between violence against women (VAW), housing, and homelessness, the VAW shelter sector has had limited involvement with the housing and homelessness sectors. The purpose of this discussion paper is to outline and review the social and affordable housing options and supports available to domestic violence (DV) survivors and to illuminate the complex and sometimes contradictory systems that survivors must navigate to avoid homelessness and gain access safe and affordable housing.
In June 2017, Women’s Shelters Canada (WSC) organized a cross-sectoral roundtable on housing, homelessness, and VAW. 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, and academics and policy makers. Our roundtable discussions informed aspects of this discussion paper and our recommendations on the National Housing Strategy (NHS).i It is our hope that through consultations and collaboration with advocates from VAW shelters and women’s housing and homelessness sectors, the NHS will integrate an intersectional gender-based analysis to develop housing solutions that meet the needs of all women.
At WSC, our long-term objective is to bring about systemic change that will improve housing options and outcomes for women fleeing violence. The roundtable and the discussion paper are our commitment to building a strong foundation across sectors to facilitate a comprehensive approach to housing, homelessness, and VAW. The following highlights key themes that emerged from our research and the roundtable. Our research drew upon a wide range of sources including: provincial policies and legislation; government reports; policy papers; NGO reports; data generated through our annual survey on the VAW shelter sector; and academic research.