YWCA Halifax’s advocacy work is grounded in feminist practice, and strives to address the root causes of poverty and inequality through evidence-based research, policy development and training opportunities. We recognize the importance of systemic change to eliminate inequality in our society, and are committed to that end in our advocacy work.
Currently, we are engaged in a number of initiatives with the purpose of bringing about systemic change for women who are marginalized by poverty and traumatized by violence, particularly in regards to housing and human trafficking.
Home For Good
In 2016, YWCA Halifax, Alice Housing, the Elizabeth Fry Society, and The Marguerite Centre partnered on a three-year project entitled Home for Good: Advancing Women’s Housing Through Systems Change. With funding support from Status of Women Canada, this project is an investigation into the experiences of women transitioning from transitional supportive housing into community.
Despite having successfully completed their 1-2 year stays in transitional supportive housing; some women return to unsafe relationships, homeless shelters, problematic substance abuse, jail and/or inadequate and unsafe housing. These women return to crisis after varying periods of independent living and these changes in circumstances have significant impacts on child welfare, the shelter system, healthcare and other support systems. This is a significant problem for women, communities as well as the social service delivery system.
This urgent project seeks to understand and address the systemic reasons why women experience persistent housing insecurity after transitioning from second stage supportive housing. The project will seek to identify and pilot effective strategies (training) and policy changes that increase the likelihood of successful moves from transitional housing into the community.
Nova Scotia Trafficking Elimination Partnership (NSTEP)
YWCA Halifax is engaging with provincial partners to lead an inter-jurisdictional coalition to prevent and eliminate the trafficking and sexual exploitation of primarily young women in Nova Scotia. With funding support from the Canadian Women’s Foundation and the Nova Scotia Advisory on the Status of Women, NSTEP will address the needs related to the prevention of sex-trafficking, appropriate intervention, and aftercare. NSTEP will enable key stakeholders to collaborate and meet the long-term goal of prevention and effective intervention by increasing capacity to address service needs and prevent and respond to sex trafficking. Specifically, NSTEP will work to build understanding, identify gaps in services, develop a coordinated system of response and mobilize to fill gaps in services, to establish sustainable program approaches for mental health services, advocacy and awareness, and policy development.
Despite a recognized need, there are presently no emergency housing protocols for victims of human trafficking. In addition, law enforcement, staff at local shelters, transition houses, youth and sex work serving agencies and health care professionals, have identified contact with trafficked youth and individuals, however a lack of training, resources, policies and supports to respond in a meaningful manner. Similarly, there are no screening tools or data collection occurring.
With funding support from Public Safety Canada and the Department of Justice, Safe Landing will focus in on the development of a human trafficking housing protocol, and will align with the work of NSTEP partners. In particular, Safe Landing aims to delve deeply into the question of emergency housing by partnering with existing shelter and non-profit housing providers, to increase capacity, resources and supports in the provision of that housing.
The goals of Safe Landing are: to develop a housing system that is able to provide safe, supportive housing for victims of trafficking that meet their particular needs; support victims of trafficking to exit prostitution and exploitation and; share knowledge and build capacity regionally and nationally to replicate similar programs.