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A Place to Call One’s Own

Stable housing is a foundational aspect in one’s journey out of poverty. A home provides not only refuge and shelter, but also a space for healing and empowerment – a place to call one’s own. Huda* first connected with YSM determined to find a secure sanctuary for herself and her three children.

She and her kids had been staying at her sister’s apartment for a few months. “When I first met Huda, I actually met with her and her whole family during those meetings – all of her siblings would come with her,” explains Hailey Merten, a student placement within YSM’s Housing Services team, “She has a very community-based support, which is amazing.”

But for a family of four, living communally meant space became tighter and tighter. “She was really stressed because she was pretty much living in her sister’s apartment with only two rooms for her and her children.”

For a month Hailey worked with Huda, looking for a shelter with available space, “Trying to find shelter was stressful and exhausting. We were having no luck, especially because of the COVID situation. The whole process can be overwhelming. There’s a lot of paperwork, and having to relive all the trauma she’s gone through was difficult.”

But Huda remained focused and steadfast, “She was calling the central intake two times a day, the people there knew her by name.”

Then, one fateful day, they got through! “We were working on her application and we decided to just try one more time. We called and they did an intake. She had an hour to get to the shelter, but she was accepted. She cried with relief.”

Huda and her children were finally able to have a place of their own. “They were living out of luggage bags, but now she was able to have her own room with her children in their own space.”

Hailey Merten, YSM student placement

With a more stable living situation, other areas of Huda’s life started to change for the better, “When I first met Huda, she had little ability to advocate for herself. She was coming from an abusive relationship and she wasn’t able to go anywhere by herself. She didn’t know how to navigate the city, even though she’d lived in Toronto for a couple of years. 

“But now she’s taking the bus by herself, she’s going to appointments alone and we’ve built that trust. She keeps saying, ‘Thank God for Yonge Street Mission’ – she keeps praying for us, praying that we can help other people like her.”

Hailey remains in contact with Huda on a regular basis, and they are now working to find Huda a more permanent home, “We applied for special priority for Toronto Community Housing and she was accepted. This too has been stressful but she’s excited. It’s just another positive thing that she could see – a light at the end of the tunnel.”

*Name and image changed to respect community member’s privacy.

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