Standing beside women in the fight against homelessness

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Workshop hears from women with lived experiences and takes stock of Hamilton’s progress in reducing homelessness and improving services

By Renée Wetselaar and Sara Mayo

“Lived experience gives people knowledge and skills that can be drawn upon to create supports and solutions,” explained Emily Paradis at Tuesday’s workshop Standing Beside Women organized by the SPRC with partners in the Women’s Housing Planning Collaborative.

The workshop featured members of the Women’s Housing Planning Collaborative Advisory Committee speaking about experiences of homelessness and of how services could do a better job of listening to  and supporting women. Emily Paradis, an activist, researcher, advocate from the Cities Centre at the University of Toronto, spoke about her work highlighting best practices to make the homeless sector more participatory and inclusive of the clients they service. “Services need to be positioned as allies taking direction from women, to end homelessness” said Emily Paradis.  

This video based on interviews at an earlier SPRC conference Why Gender? Empowering Women in the Fight Against Homelessness with members of the Advisory Committee (and created by them) is currently playing on Cable 14 and features women’s own words about their own experiences:

The workshop also featured Tanya Gulliver from the Canadian Homelessness Research Network at York University, about changes to federal Homelessness Partnership Strategy funding, which will now focus on a Housing First approach, one that has had success in many cities including Hamilton, by getting a person housed right away and instead of a focusing on a traditional graduated approach where clients could only qualify for housing through steps taken to improve “housing-readiness”. Click here to view or download Tanya’s presentation.

Finally, a report detailing work currently done in Hamilton to reduce women’s homelessness was published by the SPRC and launched at the workshop. The report titled Supporting Our Sisters: Women’s Housing Planning Collaborative and embedded below and available for download here also features data from the first 18 months of the Supporting Our Sisters project. For example, among the 254 SOS clients, health is the top risk factor for housing instability at intake, identified by 7 out of 10 clients. Abuse is the second most common self-identified risk factor, with over half of women having been abused either in childhood or adulthood. The SOS program focuses on trauma informed , intensive mobile case management services tailored to each woman’s unique journey towards housing stability and out of homelessness.

Click here to download a PDF version of the report.

The SPRC will continue to be a partner in the Women’s Housing Planning Collaborative to support the incredible work being done by service providers and the Advisory Committee to end women’s homelessness in Hamilton. We look forward to continuing reporting to the Hamilton community the progress towards this goal.

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