Women-Centred Housing Design

The Women-Centred Housing Design project led by the BCSTH explores housing design specifically for women with experiences of violence. This project emerged out of previous BCSTH housing projects including the Getting Home Project which highlighted that affordability and discrimination are only a few of the barriers to accessing long-term housing for women and their children/dependents after leaving violence. Housing suitability and access to appropriate housing options are other important challenges in meeting their long-term housing needs as they transition out of temporary housing. Racialized populations including Indigenous peoples, refugees and newcomers and multi-generational families are disproportionately impacted to secure long-term housing due to their cultural and living arrangements, economic constraints, lifestyle preferences (e.g., living communally), and household size that differ from the normative nuclear family (the basis of most housing design).

Although advocates are currently raising these issues to address the policy barriers, this project highlights that there are also opportunities in the design of housing to enhance the suitability of living spaces for women and their dependents. This project takes an intersectional lens to the housing space design needs of women that includes their experiences of violence and trauma, gender, single parenting, family size and composition, lifestyle, and age and needs of children.

Project Details

The Women-Centred Housing Design toolkit explores housing design that is specifically for women with experiences of violence. Through a co-creation process, engaging women with lived experiences, in consultation with the housing sector (e.g., developers, architects, housing providers), and researching best practice, this project produced a design toolkit with design solutions and strategies for the anti-violence and housing sectors to develop and retrofit long-term housing that are intentionally designed and suitable for this population. If your organization is interested in designing housing that meets intersectional needs of women and their children/dependents, check out this Toolkit to see design ideas with visual inspirations and floorplans.

To assess the applicability and feasibility of the toolkit, its draft was piloted in urban and rural member programs to enhance its usability. The final online toolkit is now available and shared with the BCSTH member programs and the broader housing and anti-violence sectors provincially and nationally. You can access the Toolkit and a Design Checklist under the Resources section of the current page as well as through the Women-Centred Housing Design Toolkit website.

Creation of this Toolkit was made possible with funding from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, the Catherine Donnelley Foundation and Women’s Shelters Canada.

Through a knowledge mobilization funding from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, BCSTH will be providing a training session to the members representing BC’s 7 regions at their Annual Training Forum in October 2023. The objectives of this training are to provide knowledge to members on how to utilize the Women-Centred Housing Design Toolkit in designing long-term housing for women and children with experiences of violence in their communities.

The Women-Centred Housing Design Toolkit was a CMHC 2023 Housing Research Awards recipient and was awarded the prestigious Gold Roof Award for Knowledge to Action. Click here to read the full press release.

For questions or inquiries, please contact info@bcsth.ca.

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