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Living in poverty often contributes to poor mental health and other disorders, which make women vulnerable to trading sex for rent, cigarettes or illegal drugs, Cavan said.
"Some women have reported having to trade sexual acts to have access to the washroom when another tenant won't let them in," Cavan said.
solved with lower rent, or, ideally, no rent.
"We know people are using the food banks because of their monthly allowance for basic needs and the amount needed to pay for their accommodation costs," Brick said.
Rental units with co ed washrooms aren't unusual.
Ontario Works program director Tracy Brick said, "People are challenged to find accommodation within the marginal shelter allowance."
Cavan said these women are often afraid to speak out, fearing repercussions.
Another problem here is that a service upon which many of these women rely has its own crosses to bear.
"It is directly related to their social location, gender discrimination and their consequent vulnerability to sexual predators," Cavan said in a recent interview.
concerning women's issues is the last requirement of a two year certification. The next step will be a confidential survey of local females living with poverty.
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Currently, the Algoma District Services Administration Board, which administers Ontario Works, lists a single person as receiving $585 per month for basic assistance, while a single individual with one child under 17 gets $913. There are other benefits to which users may be entitled, such as drugs, dental, vision care, special diets and help with costs relating to starting a new job. There are some informal child care benefits while participating in Ontario Works activity, such as Saucony Womens Shoes training.
The trained social worker, completing a research project, found through discussions with both service providers and local women living in poverty, females experience such hardship differently than men.
Cavan said "It's not good that trading sex has become viewed as a currency, as a form of survival when you are poor, rather than it being a predatory act that women must endure."
If the food bank, launched in 1996 out of a local United Church basement, were to fold, this would be another blow to those here living below the poverty line, officials say.
Swapping sex for shelter
An election year is a good time to push for more sustainable housing, she added.
Food bank officials say those who donate expect their contribution will go to fill shelves, not to pay rent. When the local economy suffered, so did corporate sponsorship, taking away the means to buy food for the rest of the year.
"Women's social location is one of lower wages, job discrimination and responsibility for childcare and those ongoing expenses," Cavan said. "Also, (there's) the normalizing of women as sex objects that deserve to be targeted, an assumption that this is a choice women make rather than a consequence of living in poverty."
"Tax dollars are not meant to be donated to charity, and that is essentially what would be happening if they waive the rental fees for the unit," Mayor Linda Nowicki said following council.
Volunteers frustrated at not receiving a council response, despite another letter sent requesting direction, are now trying to find a way to keep the operation alive. Looking at a bank balance of $6,500, Szekely said service could be cut back to three Wednesdays a month instead of four, which would leave a little more than $400 each week for groceries and enough to pay the rent, at least until Christmas.
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Some good news is that Wawa Janitorial Service is donating cleaning services, valued at about $70 monthly, easing some financial burden. The actual monthly rent is $200, and now there will still be hydro costs shared with other tenants paid to the municipality.
After four moves, the current accommodation in the former Medical Centre building "is the best imaginable", said past co ordinator Gail Smith, who, along with present head Cindy Szekely, addressed council. It's a dilemma food bank volunteers say would be Saucony Jazz Original On Feet
described "predators" as those who specifically target poor women, often through reduced rents, knowing their tenants will likely experience difficulty paying and may be pressured into trading sex to secure a roof over their heads.
The shelter allowance comes out of basic monthly assistance and is based on local occupancy standards, which determine the unit size (number of bedrooms needed) for which a household is eligible.
Wawa Community Food Bank volunteers told council in early February they cannot keep the pantry stocked with enough supplies for the needs of up to 70 clients a week and still pay a $200 plus monthly rent to the municipality.
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