Homelessness to Hope

We’re advancing women’s housing security.

There are hundreds of women & children in Halifax who remain severely disadvantaged and without a crucial necessity of life: A safe home. Despite 100 years of progress toward women’s equality, recent decades have seen a tragic and needless rise in women’s homelessness across Canada. Single parent families, mostly led by women, make up the majority of homeless families.

There are 1718 people using shelters in Halifax. For over 25,000 families in Halifax, there is a thin line between having money for groceries and being out on the streets. Homelessness is devastating for women: housing is a fundamental and basic need that must be met in order for women to achieve economic security, escape violence and build capacity.

We are dedicated to providing women with housing security, and providing integrated support to break the cycle of homelessness. In 2011, we provided over 13,000 service days for women in our housing programs.

We move women and children from homelessness to hope.  

Help keep them housed. Take Action.

Women In Supported Housing (WISH)

Homelessness is devastating for women. There is a reciprocal relationship between women’s homelessness and mental health issues: there is not enough housing with supports for women with mental health needs, and homelessness exacerbates a woman’s mental health difficulties.

100% of our housing participants within the WISH program are consumers of mental health. We’re providing them with the immediate and long term supports they need to stay housed.

We’re changing lives.

 What is WISH?

WISH provides safe, secure, supported housing & life skills development to 24 single women ages 19 and older who have experienced homelessness, who are exiting the shelter system and have barriers to sustaining housing. 

WISH Offers

A fully furnished apartment and the individualized support needed to stay housed. WISH provides a variety of supports and services to the participants, such as financial management, home visitation, eviction prevention, case planning, advocacy, service navigation and 24-hour emergency on-call support


Individuals who identify as women are eligible for WISH if they are homeless or at risk of homelessness, are exiting the shelter system, in receipt of income assistance and have the approval of their income assistance worker to participate and agree to sign and uphold the housing agreement.


Make an appointment to complete an intake. Once an intake is completed and approval is granted, the participant is placed on a waiting list until a unit becomes available

Sara Wheler
Program Manager
423.6162 x1227

“Thank you for never giving up on me and for giving me the safe space I needed to regain my life.
I could not have done this without the support of WISH.”

WISH Second Stage

What is WISH Second Stage?

WISH Second Stage recognizes that there is limited access to safe, affordable housing for women who have experienced homelessness and have had difficulty in securing long term housing. WISH Second Stage serves as a ‘graduate’ program for women transitioning into long term housing from WISH upon completion of their two-year term.

WISH Second Stage Offers

Long-term stable, supportive and affordable housing to women who have graduated from the WISH program who are in good standing, and ready to transition to independent living.

Supportive Housing for Young Mothers (SHYM)


Families experiencing homelessness, and single parent families, mostly led by women, make up the majority of homeless families. Women parenting on their own enter shelters at twice the rate of two parent families.

There are just under 200 births to women 19 and under in the HRM each year (about 5% of all births), and about 700 births to women 20 to 24. Health and social agencies in Metro work with many young mothers, and have identified a gap in housing young mothers. Teenage single mothers, as a group, face many challenges in finding a safe, affordable place to live. These include:

  • Rental rates that are often beyond what a young woman can afford. Rents in safe and appealing neighbourhoods are especially prohibitive.
  • Reports of discrimination in rental housing are common. Many young women are turned away because of their age, family status, source of income or level of income, and in some cases, their race or culture.
  • Women under age 19 must find a co-signer for a lease. Young women who do not have supportive family members often cannot find a co-signer.
  • Many young women do not have a reference from a previous landlord because they have not rented independently before. Others have rented before, but have unpaid bills that give them a bad credit rating.
  • Since legislative changes were made in Nova Scotia in 2001, youth under age 19 are not eligible for income assistance unless they can prove that they cannot live with a family member. In these situations, each young woman must find someone who will act as an on-site supervisor. These changes have led some young mothers to live with an abusive partner, exploitative family member, or other individual who does not have the safety and security of mother and child in mind.

Young mothers and their children also face many risks to their health and well-being, especially if they are isolated and without support. These include issues associated with poor prenatal care; higher rates of anemia and fetal death, premature/low birth weight babies, low rates of breastfeeding, high rates of exposure to violence and abuse by a partner, ex-partner, or family member, increased incidence of infant/child visits to hospital emergency rooms, and delays in child development.

Young mothers are also more likely to become exposed to housing that is unsafe or pose health risks to themselves and their children. They may experience frequent moves and changes to a child’s school/day care, or experience poverty and resulting problems (stress, poor health and nutrition, limited options). We know that young moms will have difficulties returning to work or school and may rely on social assistance as a long term solution. Chronically high levels of stress and instability are a result of all of these factors.

Children are often put at risk for higher rates of difficulties later in life which include conflict with the law, teen pregnancy, and failure to complete school.

We’re providing hope for the future.  


“I have a home and I have the support – this is what I needed all along.”

What is Supportive Housing for Young Mothers (SHYM)?

Supportive housing, parenting support and life skills development for young mothers ages 16 – 24 who are independently parenting their child or children and who are in immediate need for housing.

SHYM Offers

A stable, safe, nurturing environment, which enables young moms to learn about and focus on parenting. Participants receive a self-contained two-bedroom apartment with access to common areas such as a program room, children’s playroom & backyard playground, individualized case management and home visitation support, group programming incorporating community members & resources, 24 hour access to on-site staff and peer support.


Young women ages 16 to 24 who are independently parenting their child or children.


Registration is ongoing. Intakes are scheduled if there is a vacancy or anticipated vacancy in a unit. Single moms can stay up to two years.

Lee Ann McDonald
Program Supervisor

SHYM Second Stage

What is SHYM Second Stage?

SHYM Second Stage serves as a ‘graduate’ program from the SHYM Program and provides affordable supportive housing for at risk single mothers who are attending post-secondary education. 

SHYM Second Stage Offers

A supportive culture of peers, access to 24 hour on-call emergency support, advocacy, service navigation, and links to community resources. Five women-led families receive below market rent, free use of on-site laundry facilities, wireless Internet and a shared yard space equipped for children’s play.


Single mothers with primary care of their child/children, attending post-secondary full time and who are at risk of homelessness.


SHYM Second Stage accepts new tenants when a unit is vacant. Single moms can stay up to one year after graduation.

Lee Ann McDonald
Program Manager

902.423.6162 • Halifax, Nova Scotia • Canada