How do we apply a gender lens to the housing needs of vulnerable women? This was the question asked by Elisabeth Zimmermann, the Executive Director of YWCA Niagara Region, the leading provider of shelter, supportive and transitional housing for women and gender diverse people in Niagara. Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO) partnered with the YWCA and Joanne Heritz to identify the barriers to accessing affordable housing initiatives in one of the regions with the highest need in Canada, with priority placed on community engagement and inclusive access to housing. Elisabeth and Joanne will talk about their project.
Joanne Heritz PhD is an Assistant Professor (LTA) in the Department of Political Science and a Research Associate for the Niagara Community Observatory at Brock University where she currently teaches Public Policy and Public Administration. Her PhD is in Comparative Public Policy from McMaster University. She has Master and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science from Brock University and a Master of Information Studies degree from the University of Toronto. Research interests include the representation of marginalized minorities in policy processes, urban politics, and urban Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Community experience includes volunteering and supporting voluntary sector and cultural organizations in Niagara, including serving on the YWCA Niagara Region Board of Directors since 2015.
Elisabeth Zimmerman has worked for over 25 years in the non-profit human services sector. For the last 15 years, she has served as Executive Director of the YWCA Niagara Region, a non-profit organization working with homeless women and their families to provide emergency shelter, transitional supported housing, ongoing support services, and advocacy.
Her deep understanding of the importance of addressing the issues of poverty, and the need for quality support systems to minimize the long-term impact of systemic inequalities, has positioned the YWCA Niagara Region as a leader in addressing barriers with a women’s-focused lens among community and government agencies.
Elisabeth is a member of the Niagara Health Board of Trustees; Housing and Homelessness Action Plan Task Force; Non-Profit Council for Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC); and Government Advisory Council for GNCC. In 2014, Elisabeth won the Women in Business Award for her community spirit. She was recently named a recipient of a Women in Business Award for Excellence in Non-Profit by the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce in 2021.
Elisabeth brings passion to everything she does and as a native of the Niagara Region, she has a strong connection within the community and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Niagara residents. A feminist at heart, Elisabeth believes that equity needs to be more than just a word in a mission statement.