A Behind-the-Curtain Look at how YWCA Cambridge is Working to Establish a Women’s Emergency Homelessness Shelter in Cambridge

Quote that says " by establishing a gender-based violence responsive emergency shelter within Cambridge, we are sending a clear message that we stand with these women and are committed to their well-being"

Did you hear that YWCA Cambridge is on a mission to address women’s homelessness (visible and hidden) in Cambridge? We’ve been busy working on developing an emergency shelter, services and pathways to support women, with particular attention paid to addressing and preventing experiences of gender-based violence that often accompany not having safe and stable housing. Here’s a behind-the-curtain look at what we’ve been working on.

Our Research

In our latest research report, published in October 2023, titled ‘Women’s Homelessness in Cambridge: Knowledge Sharing and Interventions’, we engaged the voices of service providers, advocates and community champions to capture the realities of the service desert that exists in Cambridge. The report accounts for trends in the community and highlights community support efforts that are trying to bridge service gaps. This research builds on our collaborative Project Willow research that engaged 61 women with lived/living experience of homelessness, focusing on their experiences and service needs. The recommendations from these reports are helping us chart a pathway towards building a responsive system of support that fills in critical service gaps in Cambridge.

Knowledge & Action Speaker Series

Poster for a speaker series even on March 7th from noon - 1 pm on the topic of housing affordability in cambridge

Our Knowledge & Action Speaker Series brings together local thought leaders, elected officials, and non-profit leadership around a variety of issues related to women’s homelessness and housing affordability in the community. This speaker series is designed to continue to raise awareness, build community empathy and create an advocacy space to develop and push for innovative Cambridge-centric solutions. Our next virtual panel is happening March 7th.

The Plan to End Chronic Homelessness (PECH)

The PECH is a region-wide community effort led by the Region of Waterloo to co-create a plan to end chronic homelessness. YWCA Cambridge staff participate in this work, bringing with us a gender-equity lens to ensure the needs of women and gender-diverse individuals in Cambridge are captured. The plan will go to Regional council in April with formal recommendations.

Early Phase Shelter Work

In September of 2023, the Region of Waterloo issued a call for proposals through its Fee for Service funding program for services addressing homelessness. YWCA Cambridge responded to this call with a pitch for a 20-bed women’s shelter in Cambridge that is trauma-informed, GBV responsive, and includes wraparound supports. In January, we started our early-stage work on establishing this shelter, viewing possible shelter spaces and networking with community-centered developers, faith groups, and other community leaders as we move towards securing a temporary and/or permanent location. We will continue to keep our supporters informed of our progress.

Ready to Get Involved?

Addressing women’s homelessness will take a community and we’re thrilled to have you as part of ours. Increasingly, we’re being asked “how can I help?” Here are a few ways you can get involved and support community change:

Donate to the Cause

We are currently collecting general financial donations to our Shelter Fund to help support start-up and operating costs for our coming shelter. Until we have established a location, we are not collecting physical items.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We’ll be providing updates on our progress, upcoming knowledge-building events, as well as opportunities to get involved and join in our advocacy.

Have Us Speak to Your Group

Does your group want to learn more about women’s homelessness, engage in your own advocacy work on the topic, or run a fundraising campaign to support the shelter? We’re happy to come and share our knowledge and research with your group.

Get In Touch

Further to these opportunities, if you have your own creative idea on how you can support this work, please contact our Project Manager who will be able to assist you.

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