Transitional housing for victims of domestic violence proposed for Regina's Heritage neighbourhood

A Regina non-profit is hoping to turn a tiny-home concept into a big opportunity for those fleeing domestic violence.

MayBell Developments plans to build six duplexes with a shared green space in the parking lot beside Trinity Lutheran Church in Regina’s Heritage neighbourhood.

Lilium Village, located at 1909 Ottawa St., will serve as low-income, long-term transitional housing for people looking to escape abusive relationships.

Victoria Aspinall, MayBell Development’s board president, says residents will be paired with community allies and can take part in courses on finances, tenancy training and job skills.

“We want to be part of a long term solution by not just offering a place to stay, but offering a place where they can change their lives and not end up in a situation like that again,” Aspinall said.

The transition period will last anywhere from two to five years, according to Aspinall.

She says applications will be available for low-income single mothers and their children, and the non-profit will work with other organizations in the city to find tenants.

“They do need to be considered low-income, according to CRA standards, upon intake, but not for the entire length of their stay because we are aware that they will be setting goals to increase their income,” Aspinall said.

Rent will be 30 per cent of each household’s income. Once 30 per cent of that income reaches the median market value of rent, the families will be transitioned out of the village.

MayBell Developments is currently fundraising for the project. Aspinall says they hope to break ground next summer and open the village by the fall of 2022.

LIMITED SHELTER BEDS AVAILABLE

Saskatchewan has the highest rate of police-reported family violence among the provinces, according to Statistics Canada.

Data from a snapshot on April 18, 2018 shows nearly half of Saskatchewan shelters were full.

Seventy-eight per cent of all of the shelter beds in the province were in use, which is the third highest occupancy rate in the country.

“Over the course of a year, I know many, too many, women and children are turned away because of a lack of available spaces,” said Jo-Anne Dusel, executive director of the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan.

There are a number of reasons for Saskatchewan’s “consistently high” rates of domestic violence, according to Dusel.

She says the province’s small population spread out over a large geographical area means not everyone is within close proximity of services, adding certain traditional family values in rural areas and inter-generational impacts of colonization in Indigenous communities can lead to higher rates of family violence.

Financial barriers often lead to people staying in violent relationships, she said.

“I certainly have experienced, in my years as a shelter worker, women who came to the shelter, could not find affordable housing and did go back to an abusive situation,” she said.

“Having longer term support, follow-up, and a community around an individual who has left a violent situation is very crucial to their ongoing safe journey to rebuild their lives.”

Dusel says there is a need for more second-stage housing in Saskatchewan, which is not only safe and affordable, but also support-driven.

According to Dusel, people who have fled abusive relationships are more likely to find and retain jobs, begin and complete education, and avoid future violent situations if they have support from domestic violence specialists during their transition.

If you or someone you know needs help, resources and shelters can be found online at pathssk.org or sheltersafe.ca.