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Member Association Spotlight: YWCA Quebec’s Historic Achievement with the Opening of the First Non-Mixed Rooming House of Quebec City

Published on 01/02/2024 by YWCA Canada

Read: 4min 

While the first few months of the year gradually reveal the previous year’s statistics, one observation remains unchanged. The critical lack of access to affordable and adequate housing, as well as the lack of support for the basic needs of women, gender-diverse people, and their families, keeps them at high risk of poverty. Hidden homelessness casts a lingering shadow, making awareness of the situation challenging to fully understand in Quebec and Canada throughout the year. 

Homelessness affects everyone, but it is often among women and gender-diverse people that it takes an insidious form. To ensure stable housing for themselves and their families, those who experience hidden homelessness would prefer to sleep at friends’ houses, live in their cars, or stay with an abusive partner. That’s why many organizations on the front lines are working tirelessly to support them as well as their families. 

As part of our housing series, let’s take a moment to dive into the reality of one of our member associations, the YWCA Quebec, and learn about its recent successes in advancing homelessness and the gendered housing crisis. 

Alarming numbers year after year: the reality of YWCA Quebec  

YWCA Quebec offers a continuum of complete housing and support for victims and survivors of intimate partner violence, with or without children. Driven by their deepest values and convictions, YWCA Quebec spares no effort to adopt an approach focused on the specific needs of survivors, while continuing to strengthen their resources. Through 90 housing units, YWCA Quebec has an emergency shelter, a transitional housing, and community supports. The organization supports women, gender-diverse people, and their families on their journey towards healing and empowerment. 

However, the reality of shelters paints a picture that is often far from hopeful. In 2021, YWCA Quebec turned away 1948 people due to lack of space. In just three years, this figure has more than doubled, reaching more than 4000 refusals in 2023. These appalling numbers reflect an alarming shortage of available places, resources, and support. 

For many survivors of intimate partner violence, applying for housing is a significant step, but being turned away due to a lack of shelter spaces puts them at risk of remaining in dangerous situations. The refusal leaves them with no immediate alternative, forcing them to find other ways to escape potentially dangerous situations. In September 2023 on Radio-Canada, Stéphanie Lampron, Executive Director at the YWCA Quebec, shed light on the challenges faced by front-line workers: It’s clear that for a worker right now, it’s really not easy. When a woman calls, she is in distress, she is not well, there are many who cry and beg us, but we don’t have a place. Saying that, 10 to 30 times a day, is indeed heartbreaking. 

A first in Quebec City: The opening of the Non-Mixed Rooming House 

Despite the increasingly alarming numbers, and the growing demand for resources and support, YWCA Quebec remains attentive to the needs of the population of Quebec City. It is redoubling its efforts to strengthen its resources to meet ever-increasing needs. The organization’s unwavering commitment to adjust and respond to this reality is a clear testament to its enduring dedication to the community they serve. 

It was in February 2022 that the Mayor of Quebec Bruno Marchand in collaboration with the provincial minister Geneviève Guilbault, the federal minister Jean-Yves Duclos and the YWCA Quebec publicly announced a great opportunity for a non-mixed rooming house driven by the values and vision of the YWCA Quebec. “There was a lack of an in-between between housing and shelter” highlighted Stéphanie Lampron during the announcement. The waiting time for a single woman is 3 to 4 years and during this period, YWCA Quebec is not able to accommodate women for that long. The mixed rooming houses were not a feasible solution, as “women living in mixed rooming houses do not feel safe” she added. 

While the idea of a new non-mixed rooming house was already raising hope among the members of YWCA Quebec, the work quickly started. Thanks to the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI), in just nine months, from November 2022 to August 2023, YWCA Quebec was able to welcome the first women in this non-mixed rooming house. The official inauguration last November was marked by the visit of Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, as well as Marie-Pierre Boucher, municipal councillor, who saw the impact of such a project and the YWCA Quebec in the communities. 

Every day, YWCA Canada’s member associations continue to support these communities in advancing the gendered housing crisis 

These alarming numbers of shelter denials underscore the urgency of collective action and increased investment in solutions. The inauguration of this non-mixed rooming house is a significant step for the Quebec City community and it also highlights the need to expand such projects to meet the growing demand for adapted and affordable housing across Canada. Every day, YWCA Canada’s member associations continue to address the gendered housing crisis; and innovate, create, and advocate for meaningful action at their level as well as continued their attention collaboration between governments, organizations, and communities. Follow the stories of YWCA Quebec on their social media and support their outstanding actions! 

To support the cause of the YWCA Quebec and make a difference in the lives of the women, gender diverse people and children that the organization supports, make a donation. 

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