What REALTORS® can do to help domestic violence survivors facing housing challenges

Written by Dena Sicard, a Sales Representative with Royal LePage Frank Real Estate.

As a real estate agent, my job is to help my clients find the perfect place to live. Sadly, on any given night in Canada close to 6,000 women and children stay in an emergency shelter because it’s not safe for them to be at home. At the same time, 300 are turned away each night because all the shelters are full. Even more tragically, on average, every six days in Canada a woman is killed by her current or former partner. In too many cases women go to their local shelter because they are literally running for their lives. 

Personally, I know all the feelings associated with their horror as sadly I am a domestic abuse survivor.  At the tender age of 21 and with an eight-month-old daughter in tow I knocked on the door of one of these shelters and I have never looked back. It has been years and years of working on a new life for us both. The trauma of what we endured during those years will never leave me but, as we all know, out of adversity comes growth! 

These days I do what I can to help give back as a proud supporter of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. That’s why I was thrilled when CREA invited me to sit down with Shanan Spencer-Brown, Executive Director of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, on behalf of REALTORS® across Canada, to talk about the housing challenges faced by domestic violence victims and what we can do to help.

The picture of domestic violence in Canada that Shanan described to me during our interview is certainly sad but true. But the good news is REALTORS® from coast to coast can step up and help make a difference for domestic violence survivors in our local communities. I have heard Shanan say we can act as “extensions” of our local women’s shelters, which is a concept I love. Here’s how:

  • We can take advantage of the REALTOR® community’s excellent advocacy networks and push for more safe and affordable housing, so there are more suitable options available to women and children when they are ready to transition out of shelters and free up space at the shelters for others in need.
  • We can help fill gaps in funding for women’s shelters by supporting them financially with donations and hosting fundraisers and collection drives.
  • We can speak out when we see instances of abuse and violence in our communities.
  • We can educate our youth about building healthy relationships to break the cycle of family violence in Canada.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone and its victims deserve our help and encouragement. They need to know that a brighter future is possible. I’m living proof. During REALTORS Care® Week and all year round, let’s continue to show them that the REALTOR® community is behind them 100%.

Dena Sicard is a Sales Representative with Royal LePage Frank Real Estate in Whitby, Ontario. She is an Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR®) designee, Senior's Real Estate Specialist (SRES®), and a proud recipient of the Royal LePage Customer Service Award of Excellence and the CMHC Award of Distinction. Dena is a passionate supporter of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation and has participated in their Machu Picchu (2015), Iceland (2017) and Sahara Desert (2019) fundraising challenges.

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