Our Projects

OUR PROJECTS

Housing Project – Phase 1: Research; Phase 2: Planning & Development; Phase 3: Breaking Ground

In order to understand the links between homelessness and criminalization, EFSNWO collaborated with Lakehead University to conduct research on justice system involvement in the context of homelessness and housing insecurity among women in Thunder Bay. The preliminary report identified gaps in the systems and services created to support this vulnerable sector and makes recommendations which we are planning to implement as we move forward into the next phase of our Housing Initiative: Planning and Development. Over the past year we have develop a strategic plan, educated our communities, and expand our base of supporters to meet our end goal of providing transitional housing for criminalized women in Thunder Bay. This phase was achieved through 3 roundtable discussions across Northern Ontario in Kenora, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay. We brought together service providers, policy makers, and People with Lived Experience (PWLE) as a tool to educate community leaders, develop partnerships with key stakeholders, and foster community support. We also presented our findings at conferences, meetings with government officials, and community-based events. Over the last year we have formed a Housing Development Committee that will oversee the development of a transitional housing program and secure sustainable funding for Phase 3 of our Housing Initiative – Breaking Ground.

To read the full report or to gain a copy of our round table presentation visit our Reports and Presentations section of our website located under Resources.

This project is made possible through the support of:
Phase 1: The Law Foundation of Ontario, and Lakehead University
Phase 2: The Catherine Donnelly Foundation
Phase 3: TBD

Systems Navigator

In order to address the high incidence of homelessness among recently discharged women, we have added to our staff a Systems Navigator. This position provides a gendered, culturally sensitive, and trauma-informed approach to reduce the homelessness of criminalized women in Thunder Bay. This project works alongside women at any stage of their criminalization, towards the creation of a holistic discharge plan that will fill resource gaps and support them in this difficult transition. According to a study, it was found that women and girls consistently identified receiving little support in custodial settings and inadequate plans to prevent discharge into homelessness. (Van Berkum, & Oudshoorn, 2015, p.2) This issue is exacerbated by the inadequate income support provided to single adults by Ontario Works, which makes it nearly impossible for recently discharged women to afford an apartment. In addition, there are few private landlords willing to rent to someone who has recently been incarcerated. Furthermore, social housing policies create significant barriers for recently incarcerated women to access subsidized housing. These barriers are just a few of the reasons that make this particular group among the most vulnerable individuals in our community to experience or are at risk of experiencing homelessness. This project will work to establish connections with police, lawyers, housing providers, private landlords, Thunder Bay District Social Services Administration Board, mental health and addiction services and other social services providers; develop referral protocols; set up a case management system; and create a database of housing alternatives.

Through an increase in funding from the Federal Reaching Homes Stream we were able to onboard an additional 2 Systems Navigators to better meet the emerging needs of our clients brought to light during the Covid 19 pandemic.

This project is made possible through the support of:
Federal Reaching Homes Fund

Barrier Free Food Bags

Since the summer of 2020 we have worked hard to alleviate the stress that food insecurity has on the lives of street involved and criminalized women created by the pandemic through the delivery of our Barrier Free Food Bags. Each bag contains: 1 precooked meal; fruits/vegetables; proteins; carbs; a hygiene item; and a seasonal item. We also have an emergency food cupboard at our office with food packs to fill gaps between when we deliver our bags, as well a gift certificates to local grocery stores. Women’s street involvement is often synonymous with unsafe and transient living accommodations and unregulated work. This creates barriers when accessing food programs requiring a fixed address and a piece of ID, while often being limited to once a month. To make food security as barrier free as possible, we hand deliver the bags and create accessible community pop ups, do not require ID and allow access to the service as often as needed. We expect to be able to support 1000 vulnerable and marginalized women over the course of the year. By meeting people’s basic needs, it allows them to focus on more critical needs, like housing, job search, meeting release demands, and continuation of mental health services.

This project is a recipient of the 2020 Mayors Community Safety Awards – Outstanding Community Project Award – For outstanding results in community safety or crime prevention through partnership and collaboration.

This project is made possible through the support of:
Roots to Harvest
Emergency Community Support Fund
Thunder Bay Community Foundation
United Way of Thunder Bay

Short Term Supportive Housing & Emergency Housing Kits

Safe and stable housing is a human right (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2008) and especially important during a global pandemic. Many of our clients are forced to access unstable or unsafe housing options to avoid shelters or having to sleep on the streets. This can impact mental health and addiction struggles, lead to recidivism and places undue burden on other public sectors such as health and social services. This project works to alleviate these impacts by offering access to a safe and stable 3 bedroom transitional house. One of the 3 units will be available for emergency use only with the remaining two units rented out as transitional units for individuals in need of longer term housing. This unit is completely furnished, alleviating the stresses that come with having to secure these basic necessities post release while helping to limit unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. While clients are housed within the unit they will work alongside our Systems Navigators to secure long term stable housing. Providing safe and secure housing units that are furnished and can be accessed on short notice provides women with the opportunity they may need to break cycles of poverty and recidivism.

This project also supports our Emergency Housing Kits. These kits are provided to our clients on an as needed basis – and can include such items as: portable bed, bedding, pillows, dishes, cutlery; pots and pans, towels, dishcloths, cleaning supplies and any other essential items our clients may potentially need as they move into either stable or transitional housing. Clients who access this program also receive a onetime subscription to a Good Food Box.

This project is made possible through financial support from The District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board through the province of Ontario

Housing Project – Phase 1: Research; Phase 2: Planning & Development; Phase 3: Breaking Ground

In order to understand the links between homelessness and criminalization, EFSNWO collaborated with Lakehead University to conduct research on justice system involvement in the context of homelessness and housing insecurity among women in Thunder Bay. The preliminary report identified gaps in the systems and services created to support this vulnerable sector and makes recommendations which we are planning to implement as we move forward into the next phase of our Housing Initiative: Planning and Development. Over the past year we have develop a strategic plan, educated our communities, and expand our base of supporters to meet our end goal of providing transitional housing for criminalized women in Thunder Bay. This phase was achieved through 3 roundtable discussions across Northern Ontario in Kenora, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay. We brought together service providers, policy makers, and People with Lived Experience (PWLE) as a tool to educate community leaders, develop partnerships with key stakeholders, and foster community support. We also presented our findings at conferences, meetings with government officials, and community-based events. Over the last year we have formed a Housing Development Committee that will oversee the development of a transitional housing program and secure sustainable funding for Phase 3 of our Housing Initiative – Breaking Ground.

To read the full report or to gain a copy of our round table presentation visit our Reports and Presentations section of our website located under Resources.

This project is made possible through the support of:
Phase 1: The Law Foundation of Ontario, and Lakehead University
Phase 2: The Catherine Donnelly Foundation
Phase 3: TBD

Systems Navigator

In order to address the high incidence of homelessness among recently discharged women, we have added to our staff a Systems Navigator. This position provides a gendered, culturally sensitive, and trauma-informed approach to reduce the homelessness of criminalized women in Thunder Bay. This project works alongside women at any stage of their criminalization, towards the creation of a holistic discharge plan that will fill resource gaps and support them in this difficult transition. According to a study, it was found that women and girls consistently identified receiving little support in custodial settings and inadequate plans to prevent discharge into homelessness. (Van Berkum, & Oudshoorn, 2015, p.2) This issue is exacerbated by the inadequate income support provided to single adults by Ontario Works, which makes it nearly impossible for recently discharged women to afford an apartment. In addition, there are few private landlords willing to rent to someone who has recently been incarcerated. Furthermore, social housing policies create significant barriers for recently incarcerated women to access subsidized housing. These barriers are just a few of the reasons that make this particular group among the most vulnerable individuals in our community to experience or are at risk of experiencing homelessness. This project will work to establish connections with police, lawyers, housing providers, private landlords, Thunder Bay District Social Services Administration Board, mental health and addiction services and other social services providers; develop referral protocols; set up a case management system; and create a database of housing alternatives.

Through an increase in funding from the Federal Reaching Homes Stream we were able to onboard an additional 2 Systems Navigators to better meet the emerging needs of our clients brought to light during the Covid 19 pandemic.

This project is made possible through the support of:
Federal Reaching Homes Fund

Barrier Free Food Bags

Since the summer of 2020 we have worked hard to alleviate the stress that food insecurity has on the lives of street involved and criminalized women created by the pandemic through the delivery of our Barrier Free Food Bags. Each bag contains: 1 precooked meal; fruits/vegetables; proteins; carbs; a hygiene item; and a seasonal item. We also have an emergency food cupboard at our office with food packs to fill gaps between when we deliver our bags, as well a gift certificates to local grocery stores. Women’s street involvement is often synonymous with unsafe and transient living accommodations and unregulated work. This creates barriers when accessing food programs requiring a fixed address and a piece of ID, while often being limited to once a month. To make food security as barrier free as possible, we hand deliver the bags and create accessible community pop ups, do not require ID and allow access to the service as often as needed. We expect to be able to support 1000 vulnerable and marginalized women over the course of the year. By meeting people’s basic needs, it allows them to focus on more critical needs, like housing, job search, meeting release demands, and continuation of mental health services.

This project is a recipient of the 2020 Mayors Community Safety Awards – Outstanding Community Project Award – For outstanding results in community safety or crime prevention through partnership and collaboration.

This project is made possible through the support of:
Roots to Harvest
Emergency Community Support Fund
Thunder Bay Community Foundation
United Way of Thunder Bay

Short Term Supportive Housing & Emergency Housing Kits

Safe and stable housing is a human right (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2008) and especially important during a global pandemic. Many of our clients are forced to access unstable or unsafe housing options to avoid shelters or having to sleep on the streets. This can impact mental health and addiction struggles, lead to recidivism and places undue burden on other public sectors such as health and social services. This project works to alleviate these impacts by offering access to a safe and stable 3 bedroom transitional house. One of the 3 units will be available for emergency use only with the remaining two units rented out as transitional units for individuals in need of longer term housing. This unit is completely furnished, alleviating the stresses that come with having to secure these basic necessities post release while helping to limit unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. While clients are housed within the unit they will work alongside our Systems Navigators to secure long term stable housing. Providing safe and secure housing units that are furnished and can be accessed on short notice provides women with the opportunity they may need to break cycles of poverty and recidivism.

This project also supports our Emergency Housing Kits. These kits are provided to our clients on an as needed basis – and can include such items as: portable bed, bedding, pillows, dishes, cutlery; pots and pans, towels, dishcloths, cleaning supplies and any other essential items our clients may potentially need as they move into either stable or transitional housing. Clients who access this program also receive a onetime subscription to a Good Food Box.

This project is made possible through financial support from The District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board through the province of Ontario