On Friday May 12th, the Federal Housing Advocate directed the National Housing Council to establish a human rights review panel focused on the Government of Canada’s failure to prevent and end homelessness for women and gender-diverse people. Homelessness has reached such a crisis for women and gender-diverse people that the Federal Housing Advocate now recognizes it as one of the top human rights issues in Canada.
This review is based on the two Human Rights Claims (below) we submitted to the Advocate in June of 2022. We are ecstatic to see our Claims moving forward! Lived experts must be at the forefront of this historic human rights process to hold the Government of Canada accountable for realizing the right to housing.
Read the Federal Housing Advocate’s Press Release to hear about this historic news.
On June 14, 2022, the Women’s National Housing & Homelessness Network (WNHHN) and the National Indigenous Feminist Housing Working Group submitted two Human Rights Claims to the Federal Housing Advocate.
We came together to utilize the new procedures under the National Housing Strategy Act to claim our right to housing and our right to substantive equality. Our Claims spotlight violations of the right to housing experienced by marginalized women and gender-diverse people across the country, calling for immediate action. We are here to claim a better future for ourselves, our children, our communities, and the planet. We will no longer accept the unacceptable.
We call on the Government of Canada to fully realize our human right to housing and be held accountable for the human rights violations being perpetrated against us.
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
The Government of Canada’s failure to adequately address housing need and homelessness has manufactured a national human rights crisis for marginalized women and gender-diverse people. It has trapped us in situations of abuse and exploitation, separated us from our children, deepened our poverty, dislocated us from our lands and traditions, and eroded our dignity and self-determination. In some cases it has cost us our lives.
Canadian housing policy continues to prioritize profit over our right to a dignified life, to security, and to substantive equality. We disproportionately bear the consequences of the financialization of housing, but those of us who suffer most are rarely at decision-making tables or understood as rights-holders. Every day we watch the existing affordable housing stock dwindle at a rapidly escalating pace, driven by forces we cannot control, and decision-makers who do not hear our voices.
We see no future for ourselves in the current housing regime.
This Human Rights Claim, developed by the WNHHN Human Rights Task Force, articulates three key violations of the right to housing experienced by marginalized women and gender-diverse people across Canada:
- Violation 1: Failure to provide adequate, accessible, and affordable housing
- Violation 2: Failure to prevent and eliminate homelessness amongst women and gender-diverse people
- Violation 3: Failure to regulate the financialization of housing in alignment with the right to housing
Homeless on Homelands: Upholding Housing as a Human Right for Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit, and Gender-diverse People
In the context of inherent Indigenous rights, the National Housing Strategy Act (NHSA) emerges as a critical instrument that can be utilized to challenge colonial policies and mechanisms that attempt to displace Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, and gender-diverse people from “their proper power and place.”
This Human Rights Claim, developed by the National Indigenous Feminist Housing Working Group, articulates four key violations of our inherent rights that must be reviewed by the Federal Housing Advocate:
- Violation 1: Lack of Action on the Calls to Justice from the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Report and Calls to Action from the Truth Reconciliation Commission Report
- Violation 2: Failure to Provide Safe, Adequate and Culturally-Appropriate Housing, on Our Own Terms
- Violation 3: Interjurisdictional Neglect, Multiple Systems Failure, and Institutional Betrayal
- Violation 4: Security of Tenure under NHS and Secure Indigenous Land Tenure
How can I get involved?
In the coming months, the WNHHN and NIHN will be organizing across the country to support evidence-gathering from people with lived/living experience homelessness and their allies to participate in this exciting human rights process. Here’s how to get involved:
- Watch our Informational Webinar to learn about the human rights process and how to get involved
- Invite us to attend a meeting with your group, organization, or agency! We can provide an overview of the process and how you or your group can get involved. Contact us at .
- Join our mailing list and follow us on social media to stay up-to-date!
Infographics: The Right to Housing for Women and Gender-Diverse People
Looking for a quick overview? Check out the infographics below! These resources are based on a lecture that we gave at Wilfrid Laurier University discussing the Right to Housing for women & gender-diverse people, as well as the significance of our claims.