BUILDING SUPPORTS: POLICY, PRACTICE AND HOUSING ACCESS FOR IMMIGRANT AND REFUGEE WOMEN LEAVING VIOLENCE (SESSION L)
Housing is a core human right and critical resource to facilitate women’s ability to leave violence and re-establish health and wellbeing. Yet, immigrant and refugee women face many barriers to accessing safe, affordable, and culturally safe short- and long-term housing after leaving violence. The Building Supports Project, Housing Access for Immigrant and Refugee Women (IRW) Leaving Violence, is a four-year collaborative, multi-phase community-based project which aims to understand the barriers in accessing short- and long-term housing for immigrant and refugee women (IRW) leaving violent relationships and to identify practices and policies that can facilitate the removal of barriers to safe, secure and affordable housing. The project is co-led by BC Non-Profit Housing Association, BC Society of Transition Houses, and The FREDA Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children (School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University). Throughout the four years of the project, we heard from IRW with experiences of violence, multi-service agency staff, and housing providers across BC. We also conducted an in-depth and systematic policy analysis, which included interviews with key provincial and federal stakeholders from the anti-violence, housing, legal, immigration, refugee, and settlement, and health sectors. Using an intersectional feminist lens, this research was guided by questions such as: (1) what are the intersections between IRW’s experiences in settlement, housing, and health sectors?; (2) how do policies and practices within these three sectors interlink, and what are the impacts of these linkages on IRW’s experiences, especially while leaving violent homes and/or relationships?; and (3) how do other intersecting factors (e.g., legal status, poverty, gender) affect each of these three sectors and/or the linkages between these sectors, as well as their policies and practices? In this workshop, participants will: • Explore promising practices for supporting immigrant and refugee women in transition houses, including using the cultural safety assessment tool • Hear findings from the Phase III policy component emphasizing practical solutions and recommendations for collaborative, culturally safe services and supports within three interlinking sectors: 1) immigration and settlement; 2) housing; and 3) health to ensure the safety of IRW leaving violence. • Become familiar with the multi-lingual public awareness campaign “You Are Not Alone” that arose out of the project findings and was created to inform immigrant and refugee women about transition houses in BC.