Housing New Canadians
Research Working Group - Toronto
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With each case study an effort was made to interview an equal number of men and women. This allowed gender differences and women's particular experiences to be explored.

There are several topics of investigation regarding gender differences and women's experiences:

  • women's housing status as singles and as partners with men;
  • women's housing search experience;
  • women's assessments of their housing and neighbourhoods;
  • women's' views on, and experiences of, housing discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment; and
  • ethno-cultural distinctions among women's views and experiences of their housing and neighbourhoods.

Based on previous Canadian research on women tenants' experiences of sexual harassment from landlords, their agents, and neighbour tenants, an additional section for women respondents only was incorporated in the Housing New Canadians questionnaire. Female respondents were always matched with female interviewers. The questions in this section probed women's views on, and experience of, housing-related sexual harassment.

In the questionnaire we define sexual harassment as unwanted sexual attention. The interviewer then reminds the respondent that: "Sexual harassment of a tenant by a landlord, an employee of a landlord, or a neighbour, is prohibited by the Ontario Human Rights Code. It is against the law in Ontario."

We then ask the following questions:

  • Do you know about this law against sexual harassment of tenants?

  • How often do you think women tenants are sexually harassed by landlords or their staff (such as superintendents and maintenance workers)?

  • How often do you think women tenants are sexually harassed by other tenants or neighbours?

  • Do you feel [name of the respondent's group, e.g., Polish] women as a group have experienced sexual harassment while in Toronto?

  • Have you personally experienced sexual harassment while in the Toronto? If yes, please describe what happened.

Due primarily to their lower incomes and role in the family, most female household heads are renters while most male household heads are owners. And among renters, female household heads are significantly more likely to have affordability problems than are their male counterparts. From 1980 to 1995, the proportion of female heads paying 30% or more of their household income for rent jumped from 38% to 47% (SPR Associates 1998). Violence against women and gendered inequalities affect women’s living arrangements and housing options, playing a role in both household formation and dissolution.

Our gender analysis will explore how newly settled immigrant and refugee women experience and negotiate the housing system.

It will help us arrive at findings, conclusions and policy recommendations that identify differences between the housing experiences of men and women newcomers.

We will focus as well on policy relevant differences among women in the four ethno-cultural groups included in our sample, and in general, suggest ways to improve women’s housing conditions

Next:   Context: Immigrant and Refugee Settlement in Toronto

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