For immediate release
October 28, 2021 – Ottawa ON – Cornerstone Housing for Women is thrilled to announce it successfully received a grant of $65,000 from the Canadian Women’s Foundation for much needed harm reduction policy and programmatic support.
A special thank you to the Government of Canada and Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) for funding this important grant.
Historically Cornerstone has taken a formal approach harm reduction for women needing shelter, in addition, most of Ottawa’s women’s shelters have had to turn away more than 70% of women in need of shelter to due lack of available space.
In 2017, the opioid epidemic hit our streets in Ottawa. “Since the pandemic, the opioid epidemic has intensified throughout our shelter walls” says Sarah Davis, executive director Cornerstone Housing for Women. Cornerstone’s emergency shelter numbers more than doubled over the last 19 months, and the number of overdoses the staff reversed skyrocketed to 1 per day, from not having to do more than 1 a month. Davis says, “Women’s lives are at stake, this funding allows us to support our staff with providing women struggling with trauma and substance use issues with life-saving harm reduction programming and policies. It’s a pivotal moment in Cornerstone’s history.”
Cornerstone is working with Ottawa Inner City Health harm reduction experts including a nurse and peer support workers to analyse what is happening on the ground, create a harm reduction policy and recommend harm reduction programming for our organization to implement through a gender-based, trauma-informed lens.
Beth Lusk, R.N. from Ottawa Inner City Health says, “the opioid epidemic has taken too many lives, offering harm reduction services is key to providing dignified and safe supports to women struggling with trauma, mental health issues and substance use. We’re proud to partner with Cornerstone to help fully equip staff with the knowledge and capacity to provide harm reduction strategies as well as addressing the gap in our city to provide harm reduction services in women only spaces.”
Cornerstone will share the findings and outcomes of this research and the policy with our partner agencies in the city to ensure accessibility to harm reduction services in our city.