TAKING THE TIME IN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT TO RE-ESTABLISH A STABLE LIFE IN INDEPENDENT HOUSING.
By participating in a vast array of workshops, conferences, personal development and physical activities as well as weekly counselling sessions, residents can regain control of their lives at their own pace, work toward a stable life in independent housing and break free from the cycle of homelessness, exclusion and violence.
- Most of the workshops provided to residents were open to the community, with a view to enhancing residents’ interactions, experiences, discussions, and social integration.
- Residents regained access to a plot in the community garden, after a one-year hiatus. In early spring, with their promise of growth and good health, the organic seedlings were cause for much enthusiasm.
- Under the theme 7 astuces pour être bien dans sa tête [7 tips for feeling good about yourself], the Housing Services organized a whole week of activities to debunk myths about mental illness, publicize helping resources, and promote wellness and mental health.
- Colette Lafrance, a former resident who is now a tenant of Les Jardins du Y, was named Woman of Distinction 2015 in the YWCA Woman category. Her resilience and philosophy of life deeply moved those attending the 22th Women of Distinction Awards Benefit Evening, and she was warmly applauded.
- Three new committees have been formed (gardening, recreation, and citizen participation), to promote women’s autonomy and further develop their capacity to make decisions about their lives.
- The housing team shared their expertise on several occasions over the year, including the biennial symposium organized by the Réseau Québécoise des OSBL d’habitation (RQOH) and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH). One of our former residents took part in these events and shared her experience in our residential services.
WHO ARE THEY?
In 2015-2016, YWCA residents and tenants in our community housing units were women between 23 and 69 years of age and the majority lacked stable housing. Before their arrival, 42% were escaping situations of violence and around 80% were suffering from mental health problems of varying degrees of severity. For the second straight year we observed an increase in problems related to food disorders. Nearly 33% of our residents and tenants were from diverse ethnocultural communities and most were living below the poverty line.
#LASTING STABILITY AND INDEPENDENCE
Out of 37 women who completed their stay at La Résidence, 33 women regained a stable life in an independent dwelling, three of them in our community apartments at Les Jardins du Y.
Over 50% of the tenants of Les Jardins du Y have lived there since the opening in 2005, and 72% of the tenants of Brin d’Elles (Saint-Laurent site) have lived there for more than 10 years.
It is difficult to gauge the scale of women’s homelessness because they are less visible: they stay with friends, family, in temporary housing facilities, etc. The hidden nature of female homelessness prevents us from grasping the scope of a steadily growing phenomenon. In Montréal, there was a 49% increase in the number of nights women spent in emergency shelters in the winter of 2011-2012, compared to the winter of 2008-2009.1 Women represent between 22.8 and 40% of homeless people in Montreal. 2
Canada-wide statistics show that 73% to 81% of these women are or have been victims of psychological abuse, sexual abuse or domestic violence.3 a,b
Over 80% of sexual and domestic violence victims are women.4 In one year, over 11,500 incidents of sexual and domestic violence against women were reported in Montreal.5 Women in Montreal suffer a higher rate of sexual violence than anywhere else in Quebec.6
The percentage of women who suffer mood disorders and anxiety is markedly higher than that of men.7 These disorders are sometimes the long-term post-traumatic consequences of experiences of physical and sexual abuse in childhood, “victimization”, domestic violence, rape, and harassment. Other risk factors associated with mental health problems are a low level of schooling, low income, job insecurity, single parenthood, and immigrant or refugee status. There is a clear link between poverty and emotional distress. Poverty is one of the strongest indicators of an increase, worsening, and persistence of mental health problems in the population. Statistics show that women, especially single mothers and older women, are among the poorest members of society.8
1 Gouv. du Québec, (2014). Ensemble, pour éviter la rue et en sortir. Politique nationale de lutte à l’itinérance, p. 14
2 Conseil du statut de la femme, Réﬂexion sur l’itinérance des femmes en difficulté : un aperçu de la situation, avril 2012, p.9.
3 a) Gélineau, L. (2008). La spirale de l’itinérance au féminin : pour une meilleure compréhension des conditions de vie
des femmes en situation d’itinérance de la région de Québec, Rapport de la recherche qualitative, Québec, 130 p.
3 b) Plante, M.-C. (2007). Lutte contre la pauvreté au Québec : le cas des jeunes femmes itinérantes, Université de
Montréal, Faculté des études supérieures, Montréal, 138 p.
4 Ministère de la Santé publique du Québec, statistiques 2011
5 Centre canadien de politiques alternatives (2014), Le meilleur et le pire endroit où être une femme au Canada, p.23.
6 Conseil du statut de la femme, Égalité hommes-femmes, portrait statistique, Montréal, par Lorraine Rochon, 2015, p.67
7 Statistiques Canada, Martin Turcotte. Les femmes et la santé, http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-503-x/2010001/article/11543-fra.htm#a2
8 Réseau québécois d’action pour la santé des femmes. Femmes et santé mentale, http://rqasf.qc.ca/files/santementale.pdf