A Year of Homelessness & Housing among Status Immigrant, Non-Status Migrant, & Canadian-Born Families
A new research report from the University of Toronto’s Centre for Urban and Community Studies / Cities Centre by Emily Paradis, Sylvia Novac, Monica Sarty, and J. David Hulchanski offers these troubling findings: Women in Toronto without permanent resident status − whether they are temporary workers awaiting resolution of a refugee claim, or living “underground” − are extremely vulnerable, often living in conditions of deep poverty, housing instability, danger, and exploitation. They have limited access to social assistance, health care, and other social benefits, and often rely on under-the-table employment or informal networks to secure housing. For these women, pregnancy and childbirth represent a crisis, making employment impossible, incurring health care costs, and disrupting precarious housing arrangements. Most enter family shelters where they are required to try to regularize their status, although many will not qualify as refugees. Some are deported, while others wait years and spend substantial sums on fees and legal counsel before they and their families can enjoy a life of stability. Family shelters, which were intended to function as a crisis intervention of last resort, are in fact functioning as transitional and supportive housing for certain types of families. In particular, the long shelter stays of non-status migrant women suggest that they would be better served by a housing program in which they could live with their children while undergoing the status regularization process.