Shelter serving immigrant women and refugees set to open in Hamilton

Click to play video: 'Homes for Muslim women in crisis need all the help they can get'
Homes for Muslim women in crisis need all the help they can get
WATCH: Nisa Homes has locations across Canada for Muslim families, yet they are struggling to finance the life-saving services they provide – Nov 25, 2019

A women’s transition home, providing long-term shelter for immigrant, refugee and Muslim women who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, is about to open in Hamilton.

The outlet, operated by Nisa Homes, expects to aid a growing immigrant population in the city requiring unique cultural or religious needs.

“They’re just not able to access the same services because don’t they don’t know where to go,” Nisa Homes program director Yasmine Youssef told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton.

“They don’t speak the language and even when they do go somewhere, a lot of times, they might be faced with racism.”

Nisa Homes operates nine transition homes in Canada, funded by a Muslim charity called the National Zakat Foundation.

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There are four other Ontario homes: in Scarborough, Mississauga, Ottawa and Windsor.

The organization claims to have provided shelter to more than 1,000 vulnerable women and children fleeing domestic violence, poverty or seeking asylum in Canada since 2015.

For safety reasons, Youssef could not reveal the location of the new shelter but said it would open in mid-November at a central Hamilton location.

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“Women with or without children can stay for about three months,” Youssef explained. “We’ll have casework during that time so they are able to kind of figure things out. We help them find a job or find some sort of source of income.”

Nisa also helps with finding permanent housing, offers childcare services, financial assistance and counseling.

Casework is also provided remotely for those not requiring a stay or who are unable to settle at the shelter.

“Sometimes our homes are full, which is very likely to happen, unfortunately,” said Youssef. “We’ll still do the casework remotely, (and) try to help them find a place even if they’re not staying with us.”

In September, the executive director of a Hamilton shelter aiding women and children escaping domestic violence said it’s facility was over capacity and resorting to backup spaces in the form of boardrooms and offices.

Sue Taylor of Interval House told Global News waitlists for women’s shelter spaces were exasperated by recent affordability issues, including rising rental prices, year over year.

“The waitlist to get into affordable housing is quite long for women,” Taylor suggested. “So the process itself stalls women’s ability to move out of the shelter system in an efficient way, and that really creates a backlog.”

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Nisa Homes Hamilton location is expected add 16 beds to the women’s system in addition to cribs for children, a pair of kitchens, a living room, dining room and space for children.

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