Tell us about your journey towards working with Atira and women in the community.
I work in the Homelessness Prevention Program here and have been with Atira for a year and a half. Prior to working here, I worked at various community serving organizations and did my degree in Psychology. My lived experience of violence and intergenerational trauma led me to feel strongly about serving my community.
From your experience, tell us how you see violence presents itself in the everyday lives of women accessing our services.
The women we support in our program are largely impacted by many intersections of trauma, violence, oppression, and discrimination. Atira’s Homelessness Prevention Program supports women fleeing and are at risk of violence and/or women leaving various systems or institutions to obtain and maintain safe housing. Our program offers ongoing support to women within our community who are looking to find safety, resources and referrals to appropriate housing, and rental subsidies to women who are unable to afford market housing.
Last year, a majority of women (47%) who access our programs and are in need of safe affordable housing identify as First Nations, Métis and Inuit descent. According to a 2018 report from Statistics Canada, people from Indigenous populations experience higher rates of homelessness due to systemic issues like barriers to education, employment and racial discrimination. About 12% of off-reserve First Nations people, 10% of Inuit and 6% of Métis said they experienced unsheltered homelessness in their lifetime, compared to 2% of non-Indigenous populations.
“When we listen and hear women, not just listen to respond
..it fosters safety and security.”
In a recent staff meeting, in the context of effective communication skills, I heard another woman say that, “when we lean in, amazing things happen.” To me, this means that when we listen and hear women, not just listen to respond, and the women know they are being heard, it fosters safety and security. Safety and security are fundamental to women’s spiritual, emotional, and physical wellbeing and nothing more than survival can be done until a woman is safe and secure.
WHAT CALL-TO-ACTION DO YOU HAVE TO SHARE TO THE COMMUNITY TO PREVENT VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN?
If I could say anything relevant to my program as a call to action on Prevention of Violence Against Women Week, I would ask landlords and property managers to give women a chance. Single mothers and women accessing community supports are so often discriminated against when it comes to renting. The stigma behind being a single woman, with a single income results in violence against women. If landlords would give more single mothers a chance, it would greatly reduce the amount of women who end up returning to violence as a means to survive and keep a roof over their and their children’s head.
Housing Outreach Worker
Homelessness Prevention Program
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