More housing and transition spaces are on the way for women and children fleeing domestic violence in B.C.
The B.C. government announced funding this week for 11 new transition, second-stage and affordable housing projects across the province, which will offer an extra 260 safe spaces for women and children needing help.
Three of the new projects will directly benefit women in need in Vancouver.
Atira Women’s Resource Society, a not-for-profit dedicated to supporting women and children affected by violence by offering safe and supportive housing, has been granted funding for 10 beds of transition housing for older women and up to 28 units of second-stage and long-term housing. Every year the organization helps to house over 1,500 women and children in the Lower Mainland.
The Kettle Society, which has been offering a number of mental health, housing and community services in Vancouver since the ‘70s, also received funding to build second-stage housing for women. Second-stage housing helps women who have left abusive relationships make plans for independent living.
Nancy Keough, executive director of The Kettle Society, said the new building would support the society’s transition house, Peggy’s Place, which has been offering women in need a specialized program for the past 10 years.
“It supports women who are dealing with mental health issues and addictions, as well as escaping violence or historical violence in their past,” Keough told Vancouver Is Awesome.
She said the women going into Peggy’s Place had complex histories and horrible trauma to work through and often needed a second housing step.
“They have done incredibly well there and we had talked to B.C. Housing about looking at a second-stage home for those women,” Keough explained. “A more independent stage to help them further prepare to make it back into the community, so that’s what’s being built.”
The new building will offer 10 new units and double the capacity of Peggy’s Place, helping to address an ongoing need in the community.
“It will really open up beds in Peggy’s Place,” Keough said.
“The wait list fluctuates, but women can wait up to six months to a year to get into Peggy’s and depending on their circumstances that’s not quick enough, obviously.”
Keough, who has worked at The Kettle for the past 40 years, said the severity of what women were dealing with nowadays had increased, highlighting that more women were coming to the centre with physical health and addiction problems than previous years.
“We’re definitely seeing more women who are on the streets and homeless coming in,” Keough said.
“We’re seeing women in very dire straits who really need specialized support and that’s what the program does.”
The housing projects are part of the province’s 10-year, $734-million investment to build 1,500 safe homes with supports for women and children leaving violence. It’s the first major investment in the sector in close to 20 years and will increase the number of transition homes by 63 per cent.
Combined with the first round of projects announced in 2018, more than 600 new homes are open or in progress.
“Having worked for much of my career in the social sector, I can tell you that these investments are long overdue,” said Mitzi Dean, parliamentary secretary for gender equity.
“I know we have a lot of work to do, and I’m grateful for the many community partners involved in bringing these essential housing projects to reality.”
It’s hoped the second-stage building for The Kettle will be up and running in the next year.
“I’m very excited, the investment in supportive housing that’s being made at this very moment is the most I’ve seen in quite a few years,” Keough said.
“You read the newspapers and you walk down the street and you know the need is very high in the province, so I’m really thrilled this Government is recognizing that and investing and supporting us.”
In addition to funding the construction of the homes, the province will provide funding for support services including emotional support, safety planning and information and referrals to medical, legal and financial assistance.
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