The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the housing challenges and crisis that exists. Housing remains one of the top barriers faced by women experiencing violence and the services that support them. Violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness and housing instability among women and their dependent children. It can lead to devastating impacts on a woman’s economic security, preventing them from leaving abusive situations because they are unable to secure safe and affordable housing. The Violence against Women sector in Toronto has experienced an increase in demand in the needs for services and supports by survivors during the pandemic.
We strongly believe that pandemic recovery housing strategies must adopt an intersectional gender approach. We also need to see collaboration across all three levels of government in addressing the housing needs. We support the City of Toronto’s Housing and People Action Plan and the COVID-19 Interim Shelter Recovery Strategy and want to see long term, affordable and permanent housing solutions for women fleeing violence across the City.
We also welcome the recommendation that SSHA and the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services collaborate to coordinate approaches to serving women and their children fleeing domestic violence, including coordination between the VAW system and the City-operated housing opportunities. Over the last 6 months, the violence against women sector has collectively and rapidly mobilized to adapt to emerging issues and needs. We have embraced change and used this time to reflect on how we can do things differently and better serve women experiencing violence from diverse communities with housing insecurity. We must start implementing measures and solutions that address women’s housing needs in the long term to provide safety and stability.
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