Q: I don’t see as many women on the street as men. Why is that?
Women know that living on the street is highly dangerous. They will avoid it at all costs. They will stay in abusive family relationships rather than risk living a homeless life. A woman only enters street life as a final and last resort.
Women who turn to Fred Victor Women’s Hostel for shelter and support are welcomed into a safe environment. Our 44-bed emergency, overnight shelter is a safe-haven. It is a primary location for health intervention providing on-site physical and mental health care, housing access and advocacy, and such basics as food, laundry facilities and hygiene supplies.
In June 2008, the Toronto Star carried an article titled: Homeless Women in Peril. Here is the first line of that story: "Homeless women in Toronto are 10 times more likely to be sexually assaulted and twice as likely to have a mental illness as homeless men, according to a new report to be released today."
The women who arrive at our Hostel often have extremely difficult histories. They have been evicted or are fleeing domestic violence; others are unemployed or under-skilled and have no money. Some have mental health or substance use issues and others are sex trade workers. Fred Victor Women's Hostel is on the "call list" from Pearson Airport. So when women arrive in Canada for the first time from a violent homeland as refugees, it is our Hostel staff who are the faces of welcome and compassion who receive them.
Increasingly, we see an aging hostel population at Fred Victor Women's Hostel: Approximately one third of our residents are over 51 years of age. This means staff must increase their knowledge and programming to meet older women's specific needs. Some of the women who come to the Hostel have been discharged directly from a hospital. Occasionally they have had surgery and without a home or family to go back to, must recover at the Women's Hostel.
All women, including homeless transsexual women and men are welcomed to Fred Victor Women’s Hostel. Staff tell women that as long they are housed within the big, red brick building on Lombard Street, inside the Women’s Hostel, they are not homeless. They are home.
Hostel Redirect Program The Hostel Redirect Program (HRD), is a long-standing and successful housing access program that helps residents of Fred Victor’s two shelters, the Women’s Hostel and Bethlehem United Shelter, who wish to find permanent housing.