Who are London's street-level sex workers?

Street Level Women at Risk program has helped 28 women get housing in its first year

October 06, 2017

London police estimate there are 150 street-level sex workers at any given time in the city. They are among London's most vulnerable. (CBC)

​A just-released report into the first year of a program that aims to get street-level sex workers into permanent homes offers a rare glimpse into the lives of some of the city's most vulnerable residents. 

After helping women for a year, the city-funded Street Level Women at Risk program released its evaluation report earlier this week, detailing the lives of the 28 women who were helped between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017. 


What is street level sex work? 

Street level sex work is the trading of sex for basic needs such as a place to stay, food or clothing. 

Who is involved in street level sex work? 

Women in street level sex work are socially isolated, experience high rates of violence, have problems with addiction and trauma, mental and physical health problems. 

London police say there are 150 street-level sex workers in the city at any given time. 

Who are the women in the program? 

The 28 women helped by the Street Level Women at Risk were referred by London police. 

Did it work? 

The 28 women involved in the program work with a housing stability officer to get a permanent place to live. That's the main goal. They work with supports from 25 different agencies and services which provide them with help 24-7.  

What's next?  

The program will continue working with the women beyond the first year, and six new women are also enrolled. 

"These women have been living in poverty, in absolute homelessness, with mental health and physical health problems, with trauma, they're experiencing violence and abuse on a regular basis," said Cathy Nolan, the Street Level Women at Risk program director. 

"On the flip side, these are incredibly resilient, strong, intelligent women who are hopeful about making a change in their life and partnering with us to work towards those changes." 


Kate Dubinski

Kate Dubinski is a radio and digital reporter with CBC News in London, Ont. You can email her at

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