Project Details 

Background

An Introduction to the Lab

Violence plays a pivotal role in experiences of homelessness for women, and especially for Indigenous women due to the ongoing impacts of colonialism. The homelessness-serving sector and domestic violence sector currently operate quite separately, presenting challenges to providing responsive, person-centred and culturally appropriate supports and housing options. Women’s Shelters Canada notes that, “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.” As a result, many women+ are “poorly served by both, or not served by either – especially Indigenous women and others with multiple marginalizations”.

This lab is focusing on creating accessible, safe and appropriate housing supports and solutions for women+1 at risk of violence and homelessness in Greater Victoria.

While Victoria’s 2020 Point-in-Time (PiT) Count found that 33% of its homeless survey respondents identified as female, the proportion of women experiencing homelessness is likely higher, but not currently captured by conventional approaches. Further, Indigenous women experience disproportionate rates of homelessness; among Indigenous Victoria PiT Count respondents, 44% were women.

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The Invitation

How might we co-develop equitable, safe and culturally supportive responses to the housing needs of women+ who have been/are at risk of experiencing violence and homelessness in Greater Victoria?

How might we co-develop solutions in a way that protects the dignity and cultural identity of women+?

The Challenge

Violence plays a pivotal role in experiences of homelessness for women, and especially for Indigenous women due to the ongoing impacts of colonialism. The homelessness-serving sector and domestic violence sector currently operate quite separately, presenting challenges to providing responsive, person-centred and culturally appropriate supports and housing options. Women’s Shelters Canada notes that, 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. As a result, many women+ are “poorly served by both, or not served by either – especially Indigenous women and others with multiple marginalizations”.

This project will strive to create the conditions in which all peoples enjoy full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination. (Article 22 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples)

Read the Challenge Paper here.

Some Background on the Challenge:

Every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.

Resource Link

In Canada, Aboriginal (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) women and children were overrepresented in residential facilities for victims of abuse, with Aboriginal women and children represented 5 and 3 times higher, respectively, in these facilities compared to their representation in the Canadian population.

– Resource Link

Across Canada, in 2017/2018, there were 552 residential facilities for victims of abuse operating across Canada that saw over 68,000 admissions in the previous year, the vast majority being women (60.3%) and their accompanying children (39.6%).

– Resource Link

An an average day, Violence Against Women (VAW) shelters across Canada turn away almost 1,000 women and their children.

Resource Link

In Victoria, in 2019, there was
• one women’s shelter (19.0% of shelter beds)
• one family shelter (1.5% of shelter beds)

– Resource Link

Victoria’s 2020 Point-in-Time (PiT) Count found that 33% of its homeless survey respondents identified as female, the proportion of women experiencing homelessness is likely higher, but not currently captured by conventional approaches. Further, Indigenous women experience disproportionate rates of homelessness; among those identifying as Indigenous, 44% were women.

– Resource Link

Resources: 

  • Maki, K. (2017). Housing, Homelessness, and Violence Against Women: A Discussion Paper. Women’s Shelters Canada: Ottawa. ON. Retrieved from http://endvaw.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Housing-Homelessness-and-VAW-Discussion-Paper-Aug-2017.pdf
  • This project honours Article 22 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which commits to ensuring that Indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination.
  • Schwan, K., Versteegh, A., Perri, M., Caplan, R., Baig, K., Dej, E., Jenkinson, J., Brais, H., Eiboff, F., & Pahlevan Chaleshtari, T. (2020). The State of Women’s Housing Need & Homelessness in Canada: Key Findings. Hache, A., Nelson, A., Kratochvil, E., & Malenfant, J. (Eds). Toronto, ON: Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press.

Thank you to our funder, CMHC!

This project entitled Surfacing Our Strengths: Co-creating Strategic Solutions with Women+ At Risk of Violence and Homelessness received funding from the National Housing Strategy under the NHS Solutions Labs.

In Crisis?:

If you require urgent emotional support, including having thoughts of suicide and other mental health issues, please call Vancouver Island Crisis Line: 1-888-494-3888.

Youth (under 25 years of age) may access youthspace.ca for online emotional support.

For other resources, including shelter availability, visit bc211.ca