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Safe Spaces For Women Who Need It Most

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The number of women in Toronto who are experiencing poverty and homelessness is on the rise. 27% of shelter users are women. 16% of senior women live in poverty. And across Canada, 1.9 million+ women are living on a low income – dangerously close to homelessness.

And alarmingly, homeless women are ten times more likely to die prematurely than women from the general population.

But why are more and more women experiencing homelessness? There is a growing number of women in Toronto without good, stable jobs. On average, women earn only 75 cents for each dollar earned by men. And, 81% of Canadian single parents are women.

We need to create more safe spaces for women. We need to provide affordable housing, employment opportunities and other supports that will prevent homelessness and make it possible for more women to move out of poverty.

Women’s 24/7 Drop-In

This unique service at the corner of Adelaide and Church provides a safe place for women who are not able to use shelters. Most of the women here have experienced severe trauma and live with mental instability. 

The programs here work to do the following: 

  • Reduce social isolation of street-involved and service resistant women
  • Improve safety/reduce harm for street involved women
  • Build confidence and self-esteem of women who need the program 
  • Ensure program is reflective of the needs of service users 

Women’s Hostel 

Located downtown Toronto, the Women’s Hostel is a 44-bed emergency shelter specifically for women and trans folk serving over 400 women annually. Staff are trained to offer the necessary support to diverse women who find themselves without a safe place to sleep off the street.

Programs and services offered here focus in the following areas:   

  • Health intervention, connecting women to physical and mental health supports on-site, internally among Fred Victor services, and externally 
  • Basic needs – food, clothing, laundry facilities, and hygiene supplies 
  • Addiction withdrawal management 
  • Housing access – staff support with securing permanent housing and helping the women learn to manage their money so they can keep their housing 
  • For one year after leaving the shelter, staff continue to support in counselling, life skills coaching, assistance with mediation, etc.

Mary Sheffield House 

Named after our founder, Mary Sheffield House is transitional housing for women aged 55+. The women living at Mary Sheffield House are vulnerable due to complex physical, mental health, developmental and/or substance-use related issues. Working with a private landowner, Fred Victor provides one year of accommodation and care for women who require support to transition into appropriate, long-term housing. 

The newly renovated home provides separate bedrooms with a community kitchen and living space, and is retrofitted with accessible ramps, large washrooms and an elevator.

Mary Sheffield House is a welcoming space that facilitates community development programs to address health needs, nutrition, income and mental health support. It provides a community that encourages activity (arts programming, recreational outings, and celebrations) and fosters connection and inclusion. In tandem are 24/7 on-site staff, as well as a geriatric case manager who coordinates Personal Support Workers, Occupational Therapists and access to long term care for those who need help with daily living and personal care.

Older women experiencing poverty and homelessness in Toronto are in need of specialized services. Our goal is to assist these women to regain control of their lives and make plans for their future. We want to see more women get into safe and stable housing.

Women’s Transition to Housing 

Women’s Transition to Housing is designed to prevent one-time shelter users from becoming chronic/long-term users by providing privacy, safety and all supports necessary to quickly rehouse women within a span of 12 months. Rapidly re-housing this group of women is critical in preventing chronic homelessness and the mental and physical deterioration associated with long-term shelter use. 

Staff promote life skills, self-determination, independence and organize workshops on such things as stress management, health promotion, money management/budgeting, cooking, etc.  

Women’s Bakery 

The Women’s Bakery is a program for women who are seeking empowering training and employment opportunities. 

Using baking as a tool, we foster employability and entrepreneurship and equip women with practical and transferrable skills for the working world. Participants gain skills through a 3-month education and training segment, followed by a 3-month paid placement.

The Women’s Bakery tackles barriers while providing opportunity for personal and professional growth, leading to upward mobility and sustainability of improved circumstances. 

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