A reality that needs to be revealed
To avoid the streets, women often develop different strategies making female homelessness difficult to ascertain. It is also difficult to measure its magnitude.
What characterizes homelessness for women?
- They develop strategies like sex work; couch surfing or stealing to survive.
- They are reluctant to show their poverty and precarious situation.
- Their situation makes them more at risk of violence and abuse – their past and/or present is often marked by violence.
- More women than men in this situation are native or have an immigration background.
And so, their homelessness may be hidden or more difficult to see, which has nothing to do with its realness. Homeless women are living in extremely precarious situations, struggle to provide for their basic needs; a roof, food, clothing, physical and mental health care and access to public transit. Their fundamental rights – health, security, citizenship, and housing – are thus flouted.
There is no typical route that leads to Passages or any other similar organization. There are as many routes as there are calls for help.
Many women who are homeless or living in extreme precarious situation are forced to stay with an inadequate or violent spouse, in an apartment without a lease dealing with an abusive owner, or to share an apartment with roommates, risking physical or psychological abuse.
No one is safe from the streets or from poverty; job loss, legal problems, bereavement, illness or a separation are all events that can disrupt the course of a life. The women benefiting from our services come here at the end of their rope and have been living in poverty for several months. They suffered and have often been abused because they are in a survival situation.
As Caroline Dhavernas, our spokesperson, often says, we should not, under any circumstances, abandon a human being.
Consulted sources :
1. Avis du Conseil des Montréalaises
2. Déclaration de la Table des groupes des femmes de Montréal
3. Dossier de Presse, Femmes et itinérance en 2019. Partenariat pour la Prévention et la Lutte à l’itinérance des Femmes.
Passages is one of the resources for women consulted in the process of drafting these three documents and is currently collaboration on the CIUSSS Intersectoral Action Plan on homelessness by taking part in the working group for Young People and Vulnerable Families and commitee on Women homelessness. Passages is also a member of the Partneship for the Prevention and fight against women’s homelessness.