Women hit by the housing crisis

A growing number of women are struggling to find housing that meets their needs and their financial capacity just as the pandemic has increased cases of domestic violence, shows a new report that is sounding the alarm bells for policymakers.

The duty has obtained a copy of a voluminous report from the Table des groups de femmes de Montréal (TGFM) which will be made public on Wednesday afternoon. The 75-page document is based on the testimonies of 59 women’s groups and mixed organizations to take stock of the state of housing rights for Montrealers compared to what it was in 2019, when the TGFM conducted an exercise. similar. This was of course before the pandemic.

“The housing needs and the lack of shelter resources existed before the pandemic. But the needs are much exacerbated ”, evokes the project officer at the TGFM, Marie-Ève ​​Desroches, in an interview with the To have to, mardi.

The report notes that the increase in the cost of rents, which reached 4.6% between 2019 and 2020 on the Island of Montreal, particularly affects women, whose median income is 82% of that of men. , according to data from Statistics Canada.

The search for rental housing is also particularly difficult for women from single-parent families who are trying to find a unit that is affordable, but also of sufficient size to accommodate their children. Thus, 95% of the groups who responded to the survey conducted by the TGFM said they had been struggling, since the start of the pandemic, to an increase in requests for help regarding access to housing.

Running away from domestic violence

At the same time, the pandemic has exacerbated situations of domestic violence, of which women are the first victims. Thus, 18 feminicides have occurred since the beginning of the year in Quebec, against 8 last year and an average of 10 in recent years in the province. The report also notes that the number of requests for assistance sent to the organization SOS violence conjugale has increased considerably since the start of the pandemic.

However, for many low-income women trying to flee an abusive household, options are often limited in Montreal, when some 23,000 households are on a waiting list for social housing.

“The private market is often inaccessible [aux Montréalaises à faible revenu], and there is not enough social housing. So I would tell you that the situation is critical, ”says Logifem’s general manager, Sally Richmond, who manages a shelter for women and children in difficulty in the Sud-Ouest borough.

More and more women are thus trying to gain access to transitional housing, causing the system to become congested. The Mothers with Power organization manages around thirty of these in the metropolis, where women from single-parent families with young children can reside at low cost for a few years to facilitate their return to school or the labor market. Each year, the organization is faced with a waiting list of around 40 families. However, this number has doubled since April 2020 to hover around 80 currently, indicates the general manager, Valérie Larouche.

“That’s not counting women who would like to join our list, but who are not eligible. We could triple that number. It really is a staggering figure, ”she raises. Under the funding program it receives, the organization must be limited to low-income women with children under five years of age. “Our criteria are very strict,” admits Mr.me Larouche.

“Housing is a minimum”

The report thus highlights the importance of adding emergency resources to provide shelter to people in need. Because, currently, “the accommodation resources continue to be at their maximum capacity,” recalls Mr.me Desroches.

The TGFM also urges Quebec to devote more resources to the construction of social and community housing to reach the target of 23,000 units built within five years. Cities for their part could exempt all social and community housing from property taxes, the report suggests.

“Today, it is unacceptable that the status quo remains. Housing is a minimum, ”says Valérie Larouche, who hopes for an increase in the funding of organizations that help women so that they“ can really carry out their mission in the field ”.

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