Thank you for that question. It's a really good one. It's an interesting one. To me the answers all speak to the diversity of women who experience violence.
We can say that, ideally, home ownership is.... Some people will argue it's the ideal. Some people will say maybe do not strive for that.
However, let me answer in this way. All women who are fleeing violence and who find themselves in a shelter situation have one thing in common, and that is the threat of violence. Most of them will have some issue with finances. That's the affordability piece that comes into play. For some women, the affordability problem is relatively temporary. Their issue is the immediate threat they are fleeing. They will experience poverty that may be more temporary in nature. Once the immediate help is offered, they may be able to access resources through the partner from whom they're fleeing. Maybe they own a house already.
That's one sort of category. Sometimes that takes a while. There could be a court action and whatnot. It's not a simple process necessarily.
Other women who are fleeing violence have that immediate threat but their history of trauma goes back a long way. They are presenting at the shelters because they're homeless and have been for a long time, and now they have issues with addictions, perhaps mental health, and deep, deep trauma that has taken many years....
Those women are often in need of second-stage shelters, because there is a more complex need that needs to be addressed. We also find that just due to the history of the trauma they've experienced, they will need affordable rental housing once they leave even second-stage shelters for a longer period than those who, once they address the trauma, get on their feet a bit quicker.
That's an answer, simplified for the sake of being able to make the point, but you have, roughly, these two populations.
In terms of help, what we do is that we provide affordable rentals. That's what we know. We are the landlord with a heart. We provide affordable housing to women fleeing violence, and others, with supports. We work with partners in our community, such as Attainable Homes, to make sure that our residents, our tenants, know about the attainable home ownership programs out there in the community.
Our other partner is Habitat for Humanity. We make sure that those who stay with us understand that there are other options, provided that it fits with where they need to go next. People can stay with us permanently. We provide permanent, affordable housing and also provide access to other options such as attainable home ownership.