Over 1,000 different women helped
19,000+ overnight stays provided
63,000+ meals served
45,000 hours of counselling services and psychosocial follow-up, 4,500 hours of coaching in life and social skills, and 2,000 jours of rehabilitation activities
La rue des Femmes
At La rue des Femmes (Herstreet), homelessness is neither a situation nor an issue of poverty; more importantly, neither is it the result of a lack of willpower. The homeless, transients, they are simply women… living in a state of homelessness.
Extremely traumatic events, often occurring in childhood, have left these women in a state of post-traumatic stress, which keeps them in terrible fear of connecting with their own inner selves and with others. They no longer enjoy the relational health that is the crucial ability to connect with oneself and others and thus be able to live a normal life. They are no longer in any condition to work, to form a family, or make a contribution to society. In order to overcome the post-traumatic stress that destroys their lives and personal integrity, and throws them into a downward spiral of physical and mental health as well as addiction problems, women living in a state of homelessness need help.
Herstreet has been welcoming these women for over 20 years. It provides them with a safe place to stay and access to an inclusive community. Through its unique approach, based on the recognition and healing of relational wounds, Herstreet enables them to overcome the post-traumatic stress and state of homelessness troubling them and to find their place in society. And this is accomplished in accordance with the capabilities of each individual, at a pace that is comfortable for them.
Herstreet’s priority is not only to get housing for the women who come for help, either within one of its own facilities or elsewhere in the city, but also to help them heal in order to permanently escape a state of homelessness. Herstreet offers meals, support and counselling services, as well as runs programs in art and writing as a means of helping the women express themselves and begin to develop bonds with those around them.
As Léonie Couture, Founder and Executive Director of the organization, explains “Our program of care and support services also includes a range of group rehabilitation activities that enable the women we help to gradually reconnect with themselves and others.”
These activities, which go on every week at Herstreet’s two day centres, include art and photography workshops, crafts, textile arts, a choir, and more.
Herstreet’s initiatives have shown convincingly long-term results. For example, two thirds of the women who have been accommodated and cared for at Maison Olga (the organization’s first home, opened in 2002) have found stable housing suited to their needs. Moreover, not a single case of burnout has been recorded to date among the members of the Herstreet team, as they also benefit from the kind of ongoing support program needed for them to carry out their fulfilling and engaging work. Finally, a recent study conducted by the Université du Québec à Montréal revealed that, in terms of the recognition and healing of relational wounds, Herstreet’s intervention model is unique, innovative and effective.
Thanks to Power Corporation’s support, Herstreet now has a third facility, Maison Jacqueline. Opened in March 2015, it is specifically intended for those women with the most seriously damaged relational health and most urgent needs. These women, among our society’s most wounded and broken, ask to be there for them, in the name of the right to life, security, personal integrity and freedom.
“Léonie Couture is both a social entrepreneur and a social architect, since she invests her experience and expertise in helping people rebuild their lives,” points out John Rae, Executive Vice-President of Power Corporation. “Herstreet’s strength stems from its excellent governance, its track record in the community and the professionalism and expertise demonstrated by the members of its team.”