Women and children leaving violence in interior B.C. will soon have more safe places to regroup, recover and begin rebuilding their lives.
Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity, and the Kelowna Women’s Shelter celebrated a provincial commitment to create approximately 40 units of new second-stage and permanent affordable housing for women and their children who are leaving violent relationships.
“Family violence has devastating and lifelong impacts on women, children and their communities. Our government is working hard to make sure women and children have the homes and support they need to be able to leave violent situations,” said Dean. “These new transition homes in Kelowna and the Interior will make our communities safer and help women and their families rebuild their lives in safety and security, free from violence.”
The project will be funded through the Building BC: Women’s Transition Fund, a $734-million investment over 10 years to build 1,500 transition and second-stage housing, and long-term housing spaces for women and children leaving violence. This first step of the fund will build 280 new homes through 12 projects in communities around the province.
“It is so important to have more of this kind of transitional housing in Kelowna for vulnerable women and children in our city,” said Colin Basran, mayor, City of Kelowna. “To continue building a safe and inclusive community, there’s no better place to start than with safe housing and support services for women who are starting a new chapter in their lives.”
The Kelowna Women’s Shelter will manage the day-to-day operations and will oversee the tenant selection process. Since 1980, the society has offered women and their children a safe place to stay, along with essentials such as food, clothing and toiletries. The society offers ongoing counselling, support and preventive education programs, all at no cost.
“We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of women and children staying in our women’s transition house longer than the traditional 30-day limit due to a lack of safe, affordable housing options for them in the community,” said Karen Mason, executive director, Kelowna Women’s Shelter. “This project will not only create much needed housing in Kelowna, but also give us the opportunity to provide a broader safety net of support to the families in our care.”
While final project details are subject to change, proposed support services include access to health services, counselling, resumé building, interview skills and workshops about building healthy relationships, financial literacy, self-care and others.
Other transition home projects approved in the interior of B.C. include:
- Kamloops – Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society will operate up to 40 units of second-stage housing;
- Invermere – Family Dynamix Association will operate seven safe home and second-stage housing units.
- The BC Society of Transition Houses has worked with BC Housing on a provincewide needs assessment to help target project funding in communities throughout the province.
- Women’s transition houses are staffed 24/7 and provide safe, short-term shelter and supports, typically for 30 days.
- Safe homes provide safe, short-term shelter and supports, typically for 10 days, for women and children leaving violence in rural and remote communities.
- Second-stage housing provides safe short-term housing and supports for women after they leave an abusive relationship or situation. Women can stay for six to 18 months while they prepare for independent living.
- The Building BC: Women’s Transition Housing Fund was launched in Budget 2018 as part of the Province’s 30-point housing plan. The plan outlines the largest investment in affordable housing in B.C.’s history — more than $7 billion over 10 years.
Read Homes for B.C., government’s 30-point plan to address housing affordability for British Columbians: bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2018/homesbc/2018_Homes_For_BC.pdf
To find out what the Province is doing to improve housing affordability, visit: news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/bc-government-addressing-housing-affordability-challenges