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Halifax council committee wants women’s affordable housing strategy

Women's advisory body asks regional council to act on YWCA Home for Good report

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caption Haneen Al-Noman speaks at a virtual Women's Advisory Committee meeting held on Zoom on Thursday.

Halifax needs a housing strategy for women.

That’s the message from council’s women’s advisory committee following a virtual meeting on Thursday.

The committee voted in favour of a motion by committee member Haneen Al-Noman to recommend that Halifax apply a gender-based lens to housing.

“The hope here is that a staff report will be able to sort of elucidate what the municipality can do to help women suffering from homelessness,” she said at the meeting.

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The motion contains two recommendations for the executive standing committee.

The first is that the standing committee request a staff report using gender-based analysis to see how the municipality can address barriers to housing for women and gender diverse people.

The second is that council review the recommendations from the Home for Good report, a collaboration between the YWCA and other local non-profits to research women’s challenges finding housing.

Lindsey MacIsaac is the program director for the Home for Good project at the Halifax YWCA. She said that existing supports for housing are not cutting it.

“Women and women-led families have unique needs,” she said.

She said one of the biggest causes of housing insecurity for women was domestic violence.

Lack of affordable housing, difficulty finding childcare, and stigma and harassment from landlords posed additional challenges.

Supports that did exist were hard to access.

“It’s very hard to navigate and very disconnected and women, you know, they often get stuck in kind of this cycle, because there’s not a clear path of how to do it,” she said.

In Nova Scotia, housing is a provincial jurisdiction, but Al-Noman hopes the staff report for council will identify concrete actions the city can take to improve housing for women.

Coun. Lisa Blackburn was enthusiastic.

“The timing for this could not be better because it was just our last meeting that we voted to direct the CAO to put together a framework for housing and homelessness.”

Specific recommendations from the Home for Good report include building more affordable housing, providing financial support for insecurely housed women, and integrating housing with other social services.

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Sarah Krymalowski

Sarah Krymalowski is a journalist with The Signal. She has a bachelors degree of Arts & Science from McMaster University where she studied...

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