Street Haven offers pathways for women experiencing or at risk of homelessness, through a variety of integrated services in which women support women.
A community where all women are safe.
About STREET HAVEN
Over fifty years ago Peggy Ann Walpole, a community nurse, identified the lack of services and support for women who were marginalized and at risk. She proceeded to take action with the development of the first emergency shelter for women in Toronto, known then and now as Street Haven. Over the years the organization has expanded services to provide a continuum of support to a broad and diverse community of women.
Toronto is an internationally renowned city with an acknowledged housing crisis that is reflected by lower than 1% vacancy rate which is further exacerbated by rents that are simply out of reach for many. This is the housing environment in which Street Haven supports women.
Women who access the Emergency Shelter are living in chronic extreme poverty, often dealing with addiction, challenged by complex mental health issues and many are also fleeing abuse and gender-based violence.
In Toronto, an estimated 4,000 women do not have permanent shelter and this puts them at considerable risk every night. There has been a 25% increase in demand for services in the last year. Despite much effort the housing crisis in Toronto is not subsiding, in fact; it is getting worse every night, every week, every month.
Women who are marginalized talk about how they feel invisible and silenced. Street Haven provides the opportunity to be seen and heard – an essential pathway to personal dignity and respect.
In the last year, over 1,000 women accessed a variety of client centered support including: Housing Services, Addiction Services and Academic and Life Skills Services. These are interconnected and delivered across the organization in a number of locations with a variety of programs addressing specific needs and challenges. Services are inclusive and centered around the women’s needs and informed by best practices designed to support women who have experienced significant trauma in their lives.
OVERVIEW OF PROGRAMS
Housing Services provides oversight of the 50 bed Emergency Shelter and 33 Supportive Housing units across the City. Additionally, Outreach and Sustainability Services supports clients in the search for, securement of and sustainable tenancy in affordable housing.
The Emergency Shelter (open 24/7) offers the necessities of life: a safe environment, three daily nutritious meals, a warm shower, clothing, basic needs, and access to medical care. The Shelter’s trained and compassionate staff provide case management, support in life planning, and crisis intervention. It operates at 100% capacity every day.
The Supportive Housing Program provides permanent supportive housing in three different Toronto locations. Women learn to live independently after chronic homelessness, recovery from past trauma, dealing with mental health issues and/or substance abuse. Each facility offers staffing and associated support that is reflective of the needs of residents and their current level of independence.
Outreach and Sustainability services support women to find and keep a place they can call home through the “Coming Home” Program. This Program engages landlords and property management companies to collaborate in housing strategies and process to support marginalized women with sustainable affordable housing options.
Housing Services includes the following:
- Client Supports to assist women with immediate needs such as replacement of government IDs, social assistance registration, medical appointments and support with anything that is a barrier to independent living and social and workforce integration.
- Housing Supports to determine the most suitable housing solution (market housing, social housing, supportive housing etc.) for each woman, and individualized support with completing associated registrations, applications and forms. Clients who are struggling with substance use and addiction may be referred to Addiction Services as a first step towards housing.
- Life Skills to support: enhancement of life and conflict resolution skills, positive landlord/property management interviews, being good tenants, budget and problem solving, safety orientation for on-line roommates and rentals, and the development of community support networks to increase the likelihood of sustainable housing.
- Landlord Outreach to develop a network of landlords with properties that are now rented to those who previously would have be seen as challenging tenants (chronically homeless women) and who would otherwise be declined. The opportunity to engage property companies and landlords in being part of the solution to the challenges faced by women impacted by homelessness is a key driver to this component.
- Landlord Support addresses the perceived risk of renting to women who have complex life stories and are homeless by providing organizational support and consultation. It is a proactive approach which enables the landlord, with support from staff, to address tenant issues before eviction is the only option.
- Community partnerships collaborate on the issue of homelessness and housing including the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, diverse community agencies and a number of associations and networks. Demonstrating leadership, Street Haven has brought a pioneering housing sustainability program, RentSmart, to Toronto and will launch it in 2019 with community partners. The Program supports tenants and educates landlords.
Addiction Services support women who are struggling with substance abuse and often living in poverty and at risk of homelessness. Many of the women have experienced the trauma of sexual, emotional and/or physical abuse. Services are delivered through a Residential Treatment Program and an Outreach Support Program which provide services along the continuum of recovery.
The Residential Treatment Program is located in Grant House, a comfortable home setting in midtown Toronto. The Program focuses on changes in lifestyle, behavior and the individual recovery goals of each woman through the delivery of group sessions, addiction support counselling and community engagement.
The Outreach and Support Program is available for women in the community who require support, resources, counselling and help in setting goals and strategies around substance use. Services are informed by the principles of Harm Reduction and supports women in successful identification and achievement of goals.
Academic and Life Skills Services delivers a series of life skill related workshops for women who are homeless and also connects them to community services as part of a pre-employment strategy. These services are offered at the Street Haven Learning Centre located in the Adelaide Women’s Resource Centre. A Computer Literacy Program is delivered in a Computer Lab that provides computer and internet access for women who would otherwise be unable to be “connected” in an ever increasing online world. Women can also increase language, literacy and numeracy skills by participating in formal classroom sessions for academic support and upgrade. The learning process is directed by a teacher and supported by volunteer tutors.
What People Are Saying
""Street Haven gave me a sense of home for the first time in my life. They showed me what unconditional love was, and in that I learned to love myself." "
— Anonymous, client