Toronto, June 1, 2023 – YWCA Toronto, WomanACT, Social Planning Toronto, and City for All have joined forces with more than 45 community organizations to launch the Show Up for a Better Toronto – #ShowUpTO campaign. This initiative aims to rally Torontonians to show up for a better Toronto and urge mayoral candidates to take decisive action in addressing the escalating poverty and inequality afflicting the city.
Toronto is currently grappling with a housing crisis, the soaring cost of living, and an alarming rise in violence. These issues disproportionately affect women, Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities, newcomers, seniors, youth, gender diverse individuals, people with disabilities, and those on fixed incomes. The #ShowUpTO campaign seeks to shed light on the urgent need for change and demand that mayoral candidates prioritize the pressing concerns facing its residents.
A better Toronto is possible. This election offers an opportunity to shape the city’s direction for the next three years.
Toronto needs a mayor who will actively engage with and address the needs of its diverse communities, focusing on affordability, safety, and systemic equity across racial, gender, and neighbourhood lines. The campaign calls on all candidates to prioritize gender and racial equity and to invest in poverty and violence reduction.
The #ShowUpTO campaign urges mayoral candidates to show up by:
To learn more about the #ShowUpTO campaign and take the pledge to show up for a better Toronto on June 26, visit www.ShowUpTO.ca.
Sami Pritchard, YWCA Toronto, firstname.lastname@example.org
Devika Parsaud, WomanACT, email@example.com
Melissa Wong, Social Planning Toronto, firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog originally appeared on Homeless Hub.
Survivors of gender-based violence can experience homelessness due to lack of access to safe and secure housing. They may be unable to access the local housing market for various reasons, such as the stigma associated with gender-based violence, or because they cannot afford rent. Due to these barriers, survivors are likely to go to an emergency shelter (35%) or stay with family (22%) or friends (18%) as their initial housing option. In some cases, they may live in cars or other temporary arrangements.
This type of homelessness is often overlooked and therefore “hidden” in official government statistics and research, making it more difficult to accurately measure and address the issue. The ‘invisibility’ of these experiences of homelessness means that the extent of the problem is often underestimated, and the necessary support and resources are not provided to those affected.
WomanACT’s Successful Tenancies research worked with survivors to understand their experiences navigating the private rental market in Toronto.
Case study: Sara
Sara’s temporary housing journey started when she decided she would not put up with the recurring violence from her husband and decided to leave her home.
Like many women in this situation, she called for help from her family and sought refuge at her brother’s house despite years of estrangement. Although her brother was willing to provide her with a safe haven, staying with him was not the same as returning home. The tension between them was palpable, and it was difficult for her to feel at peace in such an unfamiliar and awkward atmosphere.
Her words highlight a tension between gratitude for housing and frustration with living in inadequate circumstances. In this case, her temporary housing led to stress, fear, physical discomfort, and frustration.
WomanACT’s research reveals that like Sara, many women in temporary housing struggle with these conflicting emotions. When asked about how they felt about temporary housing, some of the research participants shared that they felt “hopeless”, “anxious”, “overwhelmed” and “uncomfortable”. While others expressed more positive feelings such as “thoughtful”, “grateful” and “fortunate”. For many women, temporary housing is only a short-term solution to a long-term problem. It can also be a source of stress and insecurity, as women struggle to make sense of their new environment and adjust to a new lifestyle.
All of the survivors who participated in the research had at least one issue regarding the safety, privacy, or the conditions of the house where they were temporarily residing. Some of them did not have access to a private room or a bathroom. Others had to live in an isolated or remote area without any work opportunities or with scarce transportation facilities and limited access to services.
The lack of a safe and private space to call home can prevent individuals from feeling a sense of belonging or feeling connected to their community, which is an essential part of having a home. The research illustrates that having a home is about more than just having a physical space to live in, but about having access to resources, opportunities, and a sense of safety and security within one’s environment.
Barriers to Stability
Sara’s experience also highlights how many women in temporary housing are working on becoming more resilient and trying to stabilize themselves financially. However, there are many obstacles that they must overcome in order to achieve these things.
Nonetheless she does not give in. She tries to re-build her life by developing a community.
Sara’s experience is an example of how homelessness is broader than male-centric definitions like sleeping rough or living in shelters. Sara defines homelessness as “when you don’t have a place you go to everyday where you are safe, and when you cannot be independent to take care of yourself.”
Her hopes for the future provide us with an answer to the question of what makes a place a “home’:
Next Steps: Working to Expand Housing Options
Using this knowledge, Successful Tenancies plans to increase the capacity of housing providers to better meet the needs of survivors of gender-based violence, through training, building networks and partnerships.
WomanACT is conducting research to better understand the policies, programs, and practices that support women to remain in their own home when leaving a violent relationship. We engage survivors and stakeholders to work together, develop policy recommendations and advocate for system change.