Heather Ney, executive director of the Comox Valley Transition Society, embraces Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard at an announcement about new safe homes for women and children, Thursday at the Courtenay Court House. At left is acting Courtenay mayor Melanie McCollum. K’ómoks First Nation Chief Nicole Rempel is at centre. Scott Stanfield photo

New safe homes open for women leaving violence in Courtenay

Project will provide eight units for up to 16 women and children

Women and children in the Comox Valley leaving violence now have another safe place to regroup, recover and begin rebuilding their lives, with the opening of a new women’s housing project in Courtenay.

“Women and children need to know there are safe, compassionate places for them to turn to when they leave an abusive situation,” said Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA for Courtenay-Comox. “We are working with non-profit partners throughout the province to ensure women and children have access to homes where they can heal, free from violence.”

The project will provide eight units for up to 16 women and children leaving violence and is funded through the Building BC: Women’s Transition Fund. The fund, a $734-million investment over 10 years, will build 1,500 transition, second-stage and long-term housing spaces for women and children leaving violence, and will increase the number of women’s housing units in B.C. by 63 per cent. More than 340 of these new homes have already been announced in 14 communities throughout the province.

The Comox Valley Transition Society will manage the day-to-day operations of the units. Since 1987, the society has offered women and their children a safe place to stay at Lilli House, a shelter for women escaping violence. The non-profit also offers counselling, support and a range of other services, including preventive education programs.

“Transition houses like Lilli House are just the first step of a very long and difficult journey for women and their children escaping violence,” said Heather Ney, executive director, Comox Valley Transition Society. “Having longer-term, affordable housing units available for when they are ready to leave the transition house is crucial in helping them to rebuild their lives. By opening these units in Courtenay, we are providing another level of support to women, children and families in need in the Comox Valley.”

Women will receive assistance accessing and receiving referrals to other services available through the Comox Valley Transition Society and in the community. This can include, but is not limited to, counselling for themselves and their children, assistance with job searches or exploring educational opportunities and parenting support.

“For women fleeing violence, access to housing will help them take the important step towards safety for themselves and their children so they can focus on healing and recovery,” said Melanie McCollum, acting mayor, City of Courtenay. “This facility will offer them the dignity, support and respect they so deeply deserve. We are very grateful to the Province and the Comox Valley Transition Society for providing this much-needed service for women and children in our community.”

Residents moved into their new homes in July 2019 and pay monthly rent ranging from $570 to $965.

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