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Empowering Survivors of Abuse and human trafficking:Transitional and Housing Support Program

Life transitions can be both challenging and overwhelming, especially when one is trying to escape an abusive relationship. The Transitional and Housing Support Program at Family Service Toronto offers support, assistance, guidance, and resources to help survivors reclaim their lives.

The program is designed and offers support to women aged 18 and older who have experienced sexual, physical, or emotional abuse at the hands of their partners, significant others, or human traffickers and had left (within 3 months) or are leaving an abusive relationship.

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash


Focus of the Program


The primary focus of the Transitional and Housing Support Program is to assist clients in their journey when leaving an abusive relationship. This transition raises numerous questions and uncertainties: What are my rights? How can I obtain legal representation? Where will I find financial resources, housing, and employment? The program addresses these concerns on a case-by-case basis, ensuring survivors receive the support and resources they need to start anew.

Eligibility and Referral Sources

The services offered by the program are for self-identified women aged 18 and older who identify themselves as survivors of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, as well as victims of human trafficking. Survivors may be currently receiving assistance from residential or women's/family counseling programs. However, eligibility for the program is not limited to these referral sources; it is open and accessible to all who meet the criteria.

A Comprehensive Range of Services


The Transitional and Housing Support Program extends a wide range of essential services to survivors, both within the shelter and in the community. These services include:

  • Case Management Support: Personalized case management is provided to address each survivor's unique needs, assisting them in accessing resources and navigating various systems.

  • Applying for Ontario Works and ODSP: Survivors receive guidance and support in applying for Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), ensuring they have access to the necessary financial assistance.

  • Information Special Priority Housing and Application to the program: The program equips survivors with valuable information and Proceeds -when eligible- with the application for Special Priority housing. * Special Priority Program (SPP) is a status that is reserved for individuals eligible for Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) assistance who are victims of abuse or trafficking.

  • Referrals for Free Legal Advice and Legal Aid Applications: Survivors are connected with community resources offering free legal advice, and assistance is provided in completing Legal Aid applications when necessary.

  • Referrals to Different Services and Organizations: The program acts as a vital hub, connecting survivors with various support services and organizations that can further assist them on their journey to healing and independence.

The Special Priority Program…is and what it is not:

It’s NOT...

Ø for clients to receive money to pay for rent​

Ø for clients who simply want to separate from someone because the relationship is not working.​

Ø for clients who are in the process of deciding whether or not to leave an abusive relationship​

Ø for clients who own property or have stable income (above poverty line, according to government standards) ​

Ø clients who may want to start the application process for Rent Geared to Income housing (General subsidize housing)

It IS...

Ø a service for clients who are in precarious safety situations​

Ø for clients who are in an abusive relationship or left an abusive relationship (within 3 months)​

Ø for client who intended or already separate from the abuser.​

Ø for clients have no other way to obtain safer housing without support​

Ø For clients in need of safety housing because of domestic violence or human trafficking.

In addition to the core services provided, the Transitional and Housing Support Program offers:

  • Safety Planning: Individualized safety planning sessions empower survivors to take control of their safety and future.

  • Legal Support through Barbra Schlifer: Survivors receive access to legal support from the renowned Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, offering crucial assistance in navigating the legal system.

  • Counseling: Professional counseling services are available to help survivors heal emotionally and gain resilience.

The Transitional and Housing Support Program stands as a beacon of hope for survivors of abuse, offering them a comprehensive array of services to rebuild their lives with dignity and empowerment. By understanding the needs of survivors and addressing them with compassion and expertise, this program plays a crucial role in creating a safer and more supportive community for those seeking a new beginning.

If you have left or are leaving an abusive relationship and want to know how the Transitional and Housing Support Program can help you, please contact us at 416-595-9618 – via email at sau@familyservicetoronto.org or at gabrielape@familyservicetoronto.org

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