Samantha Inesta/HumanRights Fellow/Founder & Executive Director BeaSister2aSister
Housing has become an unnecessary human rights issue in recent months, so many are having to make the difficult decision to leave with just the clothes on their backs and what’s left of their dignity. Most have family they can live with until they can start again or friends who are willing to take them in but what about those who have nowhere to go and are forced into the streets. Lack of funding, bad house management and unscrupulous means are some the reasons survivors are finding themselves out in the street and homeless.
COVID has taken a toll on so many organizations and has changed how they work with survivors and which resources they can actually provide. But sometimes there are programs that cannot deliver on promises or even their mission statement. If you say that you have housing and call it transitional housing, it should be just that, not a shelter where participants are required to pay into it so that they are dependent on the program for food and clothing because the little money they are making (from a job acquired through the organization) is not enough to sustain them personally after they’ve paid the rent. This puts a huge strain on the organization to keep the housing going as well as the survivor who is only supposed to be there temporarily until they can “transition” to be on their own which unfortunately never really happens. If housing is not well funded or programmatically sustainable so that there can be a steady flow of women and girls coming in and transitioning out, it will have grave consequences like pushing survivors out into the streets, especially during a pandemic that has claimed the lives of well over two hundred thousand people.
Employment and housing are synonymous and you can’t have one without the other. COVID has put a strain on both and caused all the safeties put in place to crumble before our eyes as we rush to glue everything back together only to see it cracking at the seams. There is so much anxiety surrounding the need to keep a roof over our heads and having the means to pay for it, shouldn’t this right be freely given to a woman or young woman who is trying to take the steps to take her life back without having to suffer the ills of mismanagement or greed that has permeated the transitional housing and shelter system. Competition and inner circles are not going to make it any easier to find a place that will provide the right resources and stepping stones to a better future. We already have a shortage of beds so if you are not equipped to financially supporting a “home” don’t use survivors to support it for you. It’s not their job to pay your bills. That’s what donors and funders are for.
The only thing a survivor should be thinking about is getting back on track in her life, finding her path to sustainable and desirable employment that leads to steady housing. They are not your funders, housekeepers, babysitters or assistants they are women with a future and they need to be free to walk that journey to find the place they are destined to be.
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We so excited to share that we will be having a new podcast soon on Anchor.com called Global Sisters where there will be discussions on human trafficking and the broader human rights issues that are affecting populations all over the world. We hope you tune in!