New safe homes open for women leaving violence in West Kelowna
Women and children leaving violence in West Kelowna now have access to 55 new safe places, with a partnership between the Province through BC Housing and Kelowna Women's Shelter.
"No matter where people live in B.C., they should have a safe place to go when they need it," said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. "These 55 new spaces will be instrumental in providing women and their children leaving violent situations with the safe housing options they need, with supports that will help them on the path to recovery."
The new four-storey building has 23 transition-house beds spread among 10 rooms. Each room has as many as four beds and a private bathroom. The ground floor has a lounge, indoor dining area, shared kitchen, storage and spaces for support programming.
The building features 32 second-stage homes located on the second to fourth floors. The second-stage homes and the transition spaces are available to women and gender-diverse people leaving violence, including transgender women, Two-Spirit, non-binary people, and their children. Each unit contains as many as four bedrooms, a small kitchen, storage and a private bathroom.
Kelowna Women's Shelter operates the building with offices on site.
"Providing safe housing for those fleeing domestic abuse is critical," said Michelle Dickie, interim executive director, Kelowna Women's Shelter. "We are relieved to be able to provide a much-needed second-stage program that includes safe housing for those looking to rebuild after abuse. It is important to continue to invest in supports for women to be able to take steps for safety and independence."
Transition houses are staffed around the clock and provide safe, short-term shelter and supports, typically for as long as 30 days. Second-stage housing provides safe short-term housing and supports for women after they leave an abusive relationship or situation. Women typically move into second-stage housing after a stay in a transition house and can stay in the units while they prepare for independent living.
The Province, through BC Housing, provided approximately $16.2 million through the Building BC: Women's Transition Housing Fund to the project and will provide an additional $1.9 million in annual operating funding.
"We know how important it is for women to find comfort and support in their living arrangements after leaving intimate-partner violence," said Kelli Paddon, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. "Having distance and security is the first step when people are rebuilding their life and we will continue to lift up women in our province by supporting safe spaces like these transition-housing initiatives."
The development is part of a $19-billion housing investment by the B.C. government. Since 2017, the Province has nearly 77,000 homes that have been delivered or are underway, including approximately 300 homes in West Kelowna.
* As is standard for projects for women and children leaving violence, the address of this project has not been disclosed for safety reasons.
* The Women's Transition Housing Fund was created in 2018 as a $734-million investment over 10 years to build and operate 1,500 transition housing, second-stage housing and long-term housing spaces for women and children leaving violence.
* As part of the Province's new housing plan, Homes for People, the government is investing a further $1.2 billion over the next 10 years to double the number of Women's Transition Housing Fund spaces, bringing the total to 3,000.
* To date, nearly 1,000 units are complete or underway giving women and their children a place to regroup and rebuild their lives.
To learn about government's new Homes for People action plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023HOUS0019-000436