The Cowichan Valley will soon see 33 units of transition housing for women and children fleeing violence, thanks to funding from the province.
Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon made the announcement last week, saying BC Housing is in the process of constructing the housing units.
The units will consist of a mixture of studio apartments as well as apartments with up to three bedrooms for women and their children and are being constructed in an undisclosed location in the Duncan area.
The homes, which will be operated by the Cowichan Women Against Violence Society, are expected to be completed in 18 to 24 months.
Jan Bate, executive director of CWAVS, said the housing is much needed in the region, and the society has been advocating for it for many years.
She said currently, the Cowichan Valley has only the society’s Somenos Transition House to help women fleeing violence, which can house 10 women and their children at one time, and it is frequently full and people have to be turned away.
Bate said Somenos House is a first-stage temporary facility that provides shelter and support for women fleeing violence for between 30 and 60 days.
She said the new facility will be a second-stage facility for women who have been determined to have received enough support to live independently, and they can stay there for up to 18 months.
The women will also receive help getting jobs, counselling support for their children and other supports while they are there.
“We are very much delighted with this announcement,” Bate said.
Kahlon said the province is currently funding the construction of 150 homes across the province for woman fleeing violence, including the ones in the Cowichan Valley.
The other projects are taking place in the northern communities of Lower Post and New Hazelton.
“No matter where people live in B.C., they should have a safe place to go when they need it,” Kahlon said.
“These 150 new homes will be instrumental in alleviating some of the pressures faced by existing programs, and in providing women and children with the safe landing spots they need in times of crisis and on the path to recovery.”
Kahlon said support staff will provide residents of the facilities with a range of services, including emotional support and safety planning to make sure women and children receive the help they need during a difficult and stressful time in their lives.
The projects are part of a multi-year action plan being developed by the Ministry of Finance’s Gender Equity Office and the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General to help end gender-based violence.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe in their home and their community; yet too many women and non-binary people continue to face violence and sexism in their everyday lives,” said Kelli Paddon, parliamentary secretary for Gender Equity.
“These 150 new homes will make a tremendous impact in the lives of women and children who need our help and, as we celebrate International Women’s Day [last week], I thank everyone involved for bringing these new supports to B.C. communities.”