Housing

Sex and Gender-based Analysis of this topic

Definition
Housing, shelter, is a basic human right and essential to human health [1]. Core housing need is defined as housing that does not meet community standards for adequacy, affordability and suitability. That is, housing must meet all three criteria [2].Poor housing affects physical and mental health through exposure to toxins, structural problems, and social living conditions (overcrowding, housing tenure, satisfaction) [3, 4]. Dampness and mould have been directly linked to respiratory problems [5].
 
 
Sex Issues
Recent research records repeated mentions by women that housing is a fundamental concern to their health. Bad housing, including having to cope with lack of heat, mould, mice, rats and lice, dangerous neighbourhoods, harassment from landlords and the threat of violence all contribute to women’s poor health [6,7].Senior women and women who are lone parents show greater core housing need across Canada.
 
 
Gender Issues

As women are disproportionately more likely to have lower incomes than men, are consistently more likely to be responsible for other members of their families, and are more likely as seniors to live alone, housing is a particular concern for women [8]. Women with children must take into consideration proximity to schools and other facilities; mothers and grandmothers know that moving frequently affects their children’s learning [6, 7]. Many women report having to “borrow” from money they have for food and other necessities to pay for rent and utilities. Women report going without food so their children can eat and to pay rent [6, 7].

Neighbourhood safety is an important concern as is the condition of the housing [3, 9]. Beyond the doors of their homes women may face gangs and drug dealers and unwanted attention, and they expressly look for familiar and trusted neighbours, and safe and well-lit streets and corridors [5]. As women are at particular risk of violence in the home, housing and “homes” should not be presumed to be safe places for all women. Furthermore women who need to leave a home because of violence are disproportionately likely to need community shelters and second-stage housing [10]. Women’s homelessness appears to be more difficult to record and report than men’s and if so may be rendered “invisible”, even if women move from house to house with no permanency [11].

 
 
Diversity
Women have diverse housing needs, beyond needing core housing. City-living women include those who live in multi-generational households, are new immigrants getting established, have moved into the city or town from rural and remote locales, and may be caring for children and other dependants.First Nations women and other Aboriginal women, as well as women of other cultural and ethnic backgrounds, have reported discrimination from landlords, and being refused apartments and homes [12]. First Nations on-Reserve women are not protected by provincial family laws and have no recourse to make claims on shared marital property and homes [13, 14, 15]. Core housing need is particularly acute for Aboriginal women, for senior women who live alone and for women with disabilities [2, 16].CMHC records that mothers who parent alone, persons with disabilities and Aboriginal people in Canada are all more likely than the general population to have housing costs that exceed the affordability benchmarks [16].
 
 
Critique
Core housing need and the shortage of adequate housing in Canada is well documented. Many reports and recommendations do not take into account women’s particular needs, nor their varied housing and household needs. That is, much of the literature available does not include a gender-based analysis. However, it is possible to retrieve, by request, data that is dis-aggregated by sex, as well as by ethnicity, Aboriginal identity, rural vs. urban, and income.
 
 
+ Show References
 
 
Print this page
health determinants > housing