In our first campaign to amplify our Human Rights Claims, supporters reached out to newspapers across the country in droves and showed up for women and gender-diverse people’s housing rights.
By Stefania Seccia, Advocacy & Communications Lead
Our small team at the Women’s National Housing and Homelessness Network is celebrating the success of our first major campaign in support of our Human Rights Claims. The efforts of the many supporters who sent letters resulted in us surpassing our goal of 150 letters to the editor.
In just five weeks, we collectively submitted 176 letters to the editor to newspapers across the country!
As one of the most-read section of any newspaper, these letters were able to swarm decision-makers with the issue. We were also excited to see two letters to the editor published in the Hill Times (by different authors, read it here & here.) from our campaign—a popular paper for federal government officials and in the neighbourhood of the Office of the Federal Housing Advocate.
What you had say
Many of our supporters took our form letter and connected it to the current housing situation for women and gender-diverse people in their communities.
“Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation reported in February 2022 that Kingston’s vacancy rate is 1.4%, the second lowest in Ontario, resulting in increasing unaffordability. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Kingston is $2,011/month, according to August’s Rentals.ca National Rent Report. The estimated annual minimum income required to afford rent plus utilities at that rate is about $90,000,” wrote Tara Kainer. “Yet a full-time job at minimum wage in Ontario generates less than $30,000/yr.
“The resulting crisis is visible on Kingston’s downtown streets and in park encampments. Having nothing to offer the homeless in the way of temporary or permanent housing, Kingston City Council voted to prohibit camping anywhere on public property, anywhere in the city.”
Alex Zannis writes: “There is a severe lack of affordable housing in Ottawa, meaning women are separated from their children due to poverty, experience physical and sexual assault on the street, and remain in situations of abuse just to maintain a roof over their heads.”
Others pointed out how homelessness is unacceptable in a country as wealthy as Canada.
“Homelessness is a human rights violation. In 2020, Canada had the ninth-largest economy in the world, with a GDP of $1.64 trillion in USD. We can end homelessness if we have the political will,” wrote Nicole Chaland, Victoria, B.C.
Newspapers from coast to coast to coast received letters from our supporters because homelessness is not a unique issue to any one city or town.
“The serious lack of truly affordable housing is bringing more and more folks to our door and resulting in endless phone calls for support. In forty years, the situation has never been this dire. Last month alone, more than 55 families and 100 individuals new to homelessness turned to our outreach teams for support,” Sheri Lecker wrote from Halifax.
“Homelessness is a crisis for Indigenous women and gender-diverse people in communities across the North and in Canada,” writes Arlene Hache. “Indigenous Peoples, and Indigenous women and gender diverse people in particular need the resources and space free of government influence to design and deliver their own housing and support models.”
And the experience of being a women or gender-diverse person trying to find shelter is also felt throughout the country.
“In Cambridge in particular, there are precisely zero shelters for women aside from a domestic violence shelter. We know that women tend to avoid co-ed spaces due to high rates of gender-based violence including sexual assault,” writes Roz Gunn.
There are still three ways to get involved with our Human Rights Claims—here they are below!
1. Join Us
If you haven’t already, become a member of the WNHHN by subscribing to our newsletter. Be the first to find out what we are working on and upcoming opportunities to engage in the right to housing process in your community or on a national stage.
In the coming months we will be hosting consultation sessions on human rights violations experienced by women and gender-diverse people across the country. We are also planning online events that you also won’t want to miss!
Already a member? Encourage your network, friends, colleagues, and loved ones to join now!
2. Submit a Claim with a Message of Solidarity
You can, as an individual or organization, submit your own housing claim to the Federal Housing Advocate (either online or by mail). You can also support someone by helping them fill out the virtual or hard-copy form.
a) Visit the claims page on the Office of the Federal Housing Advocate’s website: housingchrc.ca/en/housing-submission. Here you will find a quick FAQ section, as well as the button at the bottom of the page to start a submission.
b) You can file a submission for yourself, on behalf of someone, or as an organization. Here is the printable form that you can also choose to mail in instead of fill out online: FORM
In your submission, please include a sentence of solidarity with our two Human Rights Claims (feel free to copy/paste):
- I submit this claim in solidarity with the two claims filed by the Women’s National Housing & Homelessness Network (The Crisis Ends with Us: Request for a Review into the Systemic Denial of the Equal Right to Housing of Women and Gender-Diverse People in Canada) and the National Indigenous Feminist Housing Working Group (Homeless on Homelands: Upholding Housing as a Human Right for Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit, and Gender-diverse People).
We would also love to include your submission in our virtual database of claims! With your permission, we can post your submission on our website.
- Please consider sending us a copy at
3. Engagement Session
Participate in a people’s tribunal, focus group, roundtable, or sharing circle in your community. Or, are you interested in hosting an event or engagement session in your community? We can help you organize!
Contact us at to find out more.