IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIFE OF DISADVANTAGED SINGLE WOMEN AT RISK OF HOMELESSNESS
This is a story of women involved in the development of social housing with community support. It is a story of women to return control over their lives to impoverished women living with permanent residential instability.
Their names are Fernande, Manon, Carole, they decided to invest in improving their living conditions and those of other women in need.
“I could not live in a small studio apartment. When I heard about the project, I was on board immediately. I participated in all meetings of the board, with the architect, with the technical resource group,” explained Fernande.
Founded Saint-Laurent project 2002, Saint-Michel project 2008
Number of units Saint-Laurent project 22 apartments, Saint-Michel project 12 apartments
Clientele Women in difficulty
Employees 2, part time
Financial partners IPAC, SHQ
The women participated in on-site meetings and closely followed the construction work.
“We weren’t ignored if we had questions, and we were well-placed to say what we needed”
– Manon, tenant
They saw their dream come true one day in 2004, receiving keys to beautiful, large three-and-a-half room apartments, each furnished with a double bed, all amenities and a balcony on which to to enjoy the summer.
“It was like going into a new condo, it looks like a condo, our non-profit!” And that’s not all! Best of all was the price of rent. Paying 25% of an income of $700 a month makes all the difference in the budget.
“It lets you breathe! You can think about buying winter boots by putting a little aside each month”
To Fernande and Manon, it changed everything.
Tenants since the opening of the first phase of Brin d’Elles, they’re now involved in a new development project with Claudette Godley — “my mentor” as Fernande says. As age begins to infringe on their health and mobility, these women need to live in a building that has an elevator. “I thought it was my last apartment, but now, with my legs …”
With a new proposal open to them, they’re ready to climb aboard once more.
Half of the 24 tenants of Brin d’Elles have lived in their homes for over 10 years. This stability reaffirms the essential role of social housing with community support as a means of social integration.
“We no longer manage misery, we manage autonomy”
– Claudette Godley, board chairperson
The Brin d’Elles non-profit was originally an initiative financed by the Fonds dédié à l’habitation communautaire (Fund
Dedicated to Community Housing). Its success is due primarily to three factors: the unwavering commitment from the very beginning of organizations like the YWCA Montreal, the Centre de réadaptation en dépendence de Montréal (Rehabilitation Centre of Montreal), the Réseau Hébergement Femmes (Women Housing Network) and the Auberge Madeleine; the partnership and sustained involvement of tenants; and the FOHM (Fédération des OSBL d’habitation de Montréal) management service agreement.
The composition of the board of directors also reflects the commitment of all these players. They continue to work to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged single women at risk of homelessness by providing access to permanent, safe, decent and affordable housing with community support.
We know that access to stable, independent housing is an effective response to homelessness when we see that all the women who turned to Brin d’Elles previously experienced residential instability for three years or more. Now these women have their own secure and private living space; they have a social and community life just like any citizen.
The Brin d’Elles corporation provides community support in these two buildings through the presence of a FOHM councillor three days a week. This on-site availability provides support and security to tenants and promotes their housing stability. In addition, the establishment of a social management committee, where representatives of the Board and tenants meet, helps prevent or resolve conflicts as they arise.
“You find the same problems as in any other similar building, but a collective spirit and mutual aid are among the values that are conveyed to ensure the welfare and safety of all residents”
“The FOHM presence brings undeniable support. Our projects are well managed and the volunteer members of the board are released from the management of everyday life. It provides time to look ahead,” said Godley.
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