Our Projects

OUR PROJECTS

Housing Project – Planning & Development

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 next year we will develop a strategic plan, educate 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 will take place over a 12 month period and roll out as a multi-pronged approach. The first action will be the creation of strategic communication materials to be used as tools to educate community leaders, develop partnerships with key stakeholders, and foster community support. This will be achieved by hosting 3 roundtable discussions across Northern Ontario in Kenora, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay, bringing together service providers, policy makers, and People with Lived Experience (PWLE). We will also present our findings at conferences, meetings with government officials, and community-based events. A Housing Development Committee will be established to 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 visit our Reports and Presentations section of our website located under Resources.

This project is made possible through the support of Catherine Donnelly Foundation

Phones for Women
Over a period of a year, we will provide select women recently released from the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre with a mobile phone. This device has a basic Voice & Text package provided by Tbaytel, for the first 45 days of their community reintegration. According to the Women’s Prison Association there are different phases of adjustment in the community: survival, stabilization, and increasing self sufficiency. Movement through these phases is in no way linear, however, immediately following release most women find themselves within the first phase- survival. One of the major challenges these women face post release is the instability of housing. Although there are some shelters that provide beds for women in Thunder Bay, these shelters are limited in their numbers and often require that you meet additional criteria, forcing some women on to the streets. Women with regular access to a phone upon release will have a reliable connection to the resources they need, such a housing, social assistance and various support networks.  We have partnered with Lakehead Social Planning Council, Thunder Bay Public Libraries, and Elevate NWO to provide participants with access to charging stations throughout the city. This project has been created to help women build the necessary foundation to support themselves as they work to successfully reintegrate into the community post-release.

This project is made possible through the support of : Tbaytel and Thunder Bay Community Foundation

Health and Wellness Fair

The aim of the project is specifically tailored for women and will attempt to address the gender gaps that exist in programming and reintegration services and ultimately assist these women to recapture their own power. This event will see several community agencies specializing in women’s rights, law, social services, gang recruitment, human trafficking, addictions, mental health, employment, and education participate in a day-long information and education session at the Correctional Centre. This is a first for the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre, as most service providers gain access to inmates after release, which in some cases is too late to provide meaningful assistance. The geographic location of Thunder Bay to adjacent communities creates a large transient population, many coming to the city to access services in health, law, education, and employment. This population is not listed as permanent; therefore they are not accounted for when community decisions are made concerning services. This discrepancy causes major gaps in our city’s ability to provide for this vulnerable population. These gaps are mostly felt by criminalized women who are forced to travel to the city without a support network and find themselves in high risk situations.

This project is made possible through the support of: Community Foundations of Canada, Gender Equality, Government of Canada, Thunder Bay Community Foundation

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.

Emergency Response Program

Our programming and services are structured to respond to daily and basic needs of the women we serve (i.e. housing, food security, clothing, etc.)  The current pandemic has forced us to change our approach to better align with the emerging needs of our clients in this crisis. This has been achieved by providing emergency food vouchers, transportation, and loosening the requirements of our supports and resources to allow our client’s better access to hygiene kits.  We are sharing reputable information about the pandemic, updates on the changing landscape of community services and any other crucial information to better assist our clients while they are out in the community.

This project is made possible through the support of: Thunder Bay Community Foundation and United Way of Thunder Bay.

Housing Project – Planning & Development

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 next year we will develop a strategic plan, educate 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 will take place over a 12 month period and roll out as a multi-pronged approach. The first action will be the creation of strategic communication materials to be used as tools to educate community leaders, develop partnerships with key stakeholders, and foster community support. This will be achieved by hosting 3 roundtable discussions across Northern Ontario in Kenora, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay, bringing together service providers, policy makers, and People with Lived Experience (PWLE). We will also present our findings at conferences, meetings with government officials, and community-based events. A Housing Development Committee will be established to oversee the development of a transitional housing program and secure sustainable funding for Phase 3 of our Housing Initiative – Breaking Ground.

This project is made possible through the support of Catherine Donnelly Foundation

Phones for Women

Over a period of a year, we will provide select women recently released from the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre with a mobile phone. This device has have a basic Voice & Text package provided by Tbaytel, for the first 45 days of their community reintegration. According to the Women’s Prison Association there are different phases of adjustment in the community; survival, stabilization, and increasing self sufficiency. Movement through these phases is in no way linear, however, immediately following release most women find themselves within the first phase; Survival. One of the major factors these women are faced with post release, is the instability of housing. Although there are some shelters that provide beds for women in Thunder Bay, these shelters are limited in their numbers and often require that you meet additional criteria, forcing some women on to the streets. To guarantee that women who are faced with this reality are able to access the full benefits of this project, we have partnered with Lakehead Social Planning Council, Thunder Bay Public Libraries, and Elevate NWO to provide participants with opportunities to access charging stations throughout the city. This project has been created to support women and to help them to build the necessary foundation to support themselves as they move through the remaining phases and successfully reintegrate into the community.

This project is made possible through the support of: Tbaytel and Thunder Bay Community Foundation

Health and Wellness Fair

The aim of the project is specifically tailored for women and will attempt to address the gender gaps that exist in programming and reintegration services and ultimately assist these women to recapture their own power. This event will see several community agencies specializing in women’s rights, law, social services, gang recruitment, human trafficking, addictions, mental health, employment, and education participate in a day-long information and education session at the Correctional Centre. This is a first for the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre, as most service providers gain access to inmates after release, which in some cases is too late to provide meaningful assistance. The geographic location of Thunder Bay to adjacent communities creates a large transient population, many coming to the city to access services in health, law, education, and employment. This population is not listed as permanent; therefore they are not accounted for when community decisions are made concerning services. This discrepancy causes major gaps in our city’s ability to provide for this vulnerable population. These gaps are mostly felt by criminalized women who are forced to travel to the city without a support network and find themselves in high risk situations.

This project is made possible through the support of: Community Foundations of Canada, Gender Equality, Government of Canada, Thunder Bay Community Foundation

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.

This project is made possible through the support of Government of Canada Reaching Homes Initiative

Emergency Response Program

Our programming and services are structured to respond to daily and basic needs of the women we serve (i.e. housing, food security, clothing, etc.)  The current pandemic has forced us to change our approach to better align with the emerging needs of our clients in this crisis. This has been achieved by providing emergency food vouchers, transportation, and loosening the requirements of our supports and resources to allow our client’s better access to hygiene kits.  We are sharing reputable information about the pandemic, updates on the changing landscape of community services and any other crucial information to better assist our clients while they are out in the community.

This project is made possible through the support of: Thunder Bay Community Foundation and United Way of Thunder Bay.