Factors Contributing to Becoming Housed for Women Who Have Experienced Homelessness

By Nemiroff, Rebecca; Aubry, Tim et al. | Canadian Journal of Urban Research, Winter 2010 | Go to article overview
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Factors Contributing to Becoming Housed for Women Who Have Experienced Homelessness

Nemiroff, Rebecca, Aubry, Tim, Klodawsky, Fran, Canadian Journal of Urban Research


This longitudinal study examined physical integration, defined as becoming rehoused, of women who were homeless at the study's outset. Participants (N = 101) were recruited at homeless shelters in Ottawa and participated in two in-person interviews, approximately two years apart. A predictive model identifying factors associated with becoming rehoused and achieving housing stability was developed from previous empirical research and tested. Being accompanied by dependent children and having access to subsidized housing predicted being re-housed at follow-up. This research represents the first longitudinal study examining exits from homelessness in a sample of Canadian women. The findings suggest that providing financial resources is essential to helping women who have experienced homelessness to become physically integrated in their communities. In addition, it is suggested women who are unaccompanied by children would benefit from more intensive services.

Keywords: homelessness, housing, community integration, women


Cette etude longitudinale a examine l'integration physique dans la communaute, un concept qui fait reference au relogement des femmes qui etaient sans-abri au moment de commencer l'etude. Les participants (N= 101) ont ete recrutes dans les refuges pour sans-abri a Ottawa et ont participe a deux entrevues a deux, a environ deux ans d'intervalle. Un modele predictif identifiant des facteurs associes au processus de relogement et a la realisation de la stabilite du logement a ete elabore a partir de recherches empiriques anterieures; le modele a aussi ete teste. Etre accompagne par des enfants a charge et avoir acces a un logement subventionne prevoyait le relogement au moment du suivi. Cette recherche constitue la premiere etude longitudinale examinant les issues de l'itinerance, au sein d'un un echantillon de femmes canadiennes. Les resultats suggerent que de fournir des ressources financieres est indispensable pour permettre aux femmes qui ont vecu l'itinerance a devenir physiquement integrees dans leurs communautes. En outre, il apparait que des femmes qui ne sont pas accompagnees d'enfants pourraient beneficier de services plus intensifs.

Mots cles: itinerance, logement, integration communautaire, femmes


Homelessness is a growing problem in Canada, and one that is garnering increasing attention in both the research literature and public consciousness (Gaetz, 2010; Hulchanski, Campinski, Chau, Hwang and Paradis, 2009). Recently, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing described the situation in Canada as a "national crisis" and noted that women are among those who are particularly vulnerable to difficulties associated with inadequate housing (United Nations, 2007).

People who are homeless may be disaffiliated from the mainstream of society and often face barriers to becoming reintegrated in their communities. Clapham (2003) points out the importance of housing in allowing the normal activities of living, for example work and family life, to occur. Breese and Feltey (1996) argue that becoming homeless means the loss not only of housing, but also of the role of housed citizen and fully-functioning member of society.

This study examined predictors of becoming housed for women who have experienced homelessness from the perspective of community integration. Research to date investigating successful exits from homelessness leading to physical integration in the community have been conducted exclusively in the United States, with much of it conducted in the 1990s. The objective of the present study was to examine which factors contributed to women leaving homelessness in a Canadian context in the 2000s.

Homeless Women and Families

Homeless women, whether alone or with children, face a diverse set of challenges, including physical illness, low levels of education, unemployment, victimization, (Buckner, Bassuk and Zima, 1993; Fisher, Hovell, Hofstetter and Hough, 1995) and, frequently, histories of family disruption and violence in childhood (Farrell, Aubry, Klodawsky, Jewett and Petty, 2000; Shinn, Knickman and Weitzman 1991; Shinn et al.

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