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OPINION – As we come into the end of Domestic Violence Month

Chilliwack – (Patti MacAhonic, Ann Davis Transition Society) – For the past four – five years we have been experiencing the continuous and increasing spiral of an unprecedented housing crisis, with no end in sight. The pandemic economy we are currently living in has further put the squeeze on women and low-income family renters and we see the effects every day in the work we do with Ann Davis Transition Society (ADTS).  With the ending of CERB those women and families who are currently in a precarious financial state and are precariously housed are going to be losing their housing and there are not enough adequate resources in place and little to no affordable housing options in our community. 43% of the homeless in our community are women. 

Patti MacAhonic, Executive Director of Ann Davis Transition Society shares that, “Although government has taken some steps including the National Housing Strategy put in place November 2017, the housing crisis has progressively gotten worse with record-level housing and rental prices. Efforts aimed at controlling the crisis, including foreign buyer taxation measures and provincial housing strategies, have yet to effectively address the limited availability of housing. This permutation of the lack of affordability and availability crisis is affecting all demographics, but it is especially hard on women and single parent families with lower earning power. Low-income women who are marginalized by poverty are outpriced in this housing market with tragic outcomes. With poverty comes housing instability, residential evictions, and other barriers such as stigma.”

This also means women are more likely to experience “invisible homelessness,” such as staying temporarily with family or a friend or in unsafe situations just to have a roof over their heads. This likelihood is likely to be exacerbated by gender-based violence.

Despite the increased coverage of sexual assault and violence against women in this #MeToo era, the experiences of poor women, women who cannot afford to pay skyrocketing rents (which are many) racialized women, women with disabilities are still widely overlooked.

Violence against precariously housed or homeless women remains normalized and pervasive. It isn’t something that can be escaped as it extends into low-income housing and is reinforced through low-income male-centered housing models and building policies. Societal stigma is extremely hard to overcome when searching for adequate housing for women with any kind of barrier, including poverty.  Recognizing the ways that gender structures impact low-income housing is essential to developing suitable housing strategies.

ADTS was approved for 60 units of women’s housing, 20 second stage unites for women and children and 40 for single women 2 years ago by BC Housing. This has stalled, with roadblocks in year one from the city with geographic limitations which have been removed and now with BC Housing being slow to respond.  We are working to get this on track. Every year we have women die on our streets during the winter months, this can be avoided and is unconscionable.

It is time for our community and everyone in it to recognize social and structural injustices faced daily by women and single parent families and to create livable, safe, affordable housing attuned to the varying needs of residents. For further information on how you can join the conversation or to help, please contact Patti MacAhonic, Executive Director of Ann Davis Transition Society.

Ann Davis Transition Society provides education, prevention, and support services to those affected by abuse or violence. Our vision is to see communities free of violence and abuse. For more information contact Patti MacAhonic, Executive Director at pmacahonic@anndavis.org  or call 604-793-5003.  www.anndavis.org like us on FB.FOR MORE INFORMATION: https://www.facebook.com/AnnDavisTransitionSociety

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