Exploring the Experiences of Newcomer Women With Insecure Housing in Montréal Canada

Walsh, CA.; Hanley, J.; Ives, N.; Hordyk, SR. (2016)

Journal of International Migration and Integration

17(3) | 887-904

The objective of this study was to explore housing insecurity among women newcomers to Montreal, Canada. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 26 newcomer women who had experienced housing insecurity and five women’s shelter service providers. The primary cause of housing insecurity for newcomer women was inadequate income in the face of rapidly rising housing costs, coupled with unfamiliarity with the dominant culture and the local housing system. Specific events often served as tipping points for immigrant women—incidents that forced women into less secure housing. To avoid absolute homelessness, most women stayed with family, couch surfed, used women’s or educational residences, shared a room or an apartment, lived in hotels, single rented rooms, or transitional housing. These arrangements were often problematic, as crowded conditions, financial dependency, differing expectations and interpersonal conflicts made for stressful or exploitive relationships, which sometimes ended abruptly. Only two of the 26 women interviewed described their current living situation as stable. Based on the findings on the study, we recommend training for housing and immigration service providers, wrap-around services in terms of health, housing and immigration settlement programs that take into account a broad range of immigration statuses and transitional housing that caters to the specific needs of migrant women.