UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Women's perspectives of safety in supportive housing on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and Downtown Core : "this is high emotion here. You're dealing with life here" Ravn, Ferma


This qualitative research project sought to explore women’s perspectives of safety in supportive housing within Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) and Downtown Core (DC). Feminist participatory action research and intersectionality theory were utilized as a research framework. Ten participants, most of who were Aboriginal, were recruited for this project and focus groups and interviews were used for data collection. Five themes were identified using open coding. The first theme focuses on how intersecting stigmas impacted participants’ experiences and perspectives of safety within supportive housing. The second centers on how experiences of trauma informed some women’s housing decisions. The third theme portrays how the location of supportive housing was key to participants’ feelings of safety in their housing and surrounding neighborhoods. The fourth shows that participants viewed safety largely as security measures that were respectful of tenants’ rights to privacy and independence. The fifth theme reveals that pervasive problems in supportive housing put participants at everyday risk. These pervasive problems were identified by participants as being bedbug infestations, dangers associated with sharing bathrooms, social conflict, and negligence from staff and management. The findings of this research project suggest that women’s perspectives of safety were informed by their interlocking social locations, as well as their unique life experiences. This resulted in women having a range of views on what created safety in supportive housing. The findings also indicate that a significant portion of supportive housing stock is substandard in the DTES and DC, especially those that are single room occupancy (SRO) hotels, putting women at risk on an ongoing basis.

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