Housing Minister Selina Robinson and Premier John Horgan listen as Makenna Rielly, executive director of the Victoria Women’s Transition House Society, describes need for second-stage transition housing, B.C. legislature, Oct. 25, 2018. (B.C. government)

B.C. women fleeing violence to get new transition housing facilities

Kelowna, Smithers, Nanaimo, Port Alberni and Langford among locations

The B.C. government has announced the first stage of its plan to expand transition house facilities, with 12 projects that will house 280 women and children leaving violent home situations.

The province’s three-year goal is to add 500 units to the system, including second-stage housing for women who reach the 30-day limit for staying in a transition house, Premier John Horgan said at a ceremony at the B.C. legislature Thursday.

The need for additional space is being described by facilities around the province, with transition houses forced to turn away women, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson said.

Makenna Rielly, executive director of the Victoria Women’s Transition House Society, described the need for second-stage housing.

“Based on our research, as well as the voices of those we serve on a day-to-day basis, we know that many women required longer than the 30-day stay at emergency shelters, in order to build a new and safe environment for themselves and their children,” Rielly said. “Financial, emotional and legal issues are often overwhelming, and affordable housing is scarce and difficult to find. For many it is easier to go back to their abusive partner.”

RELATED: Kitimat struggles with increased domestic assault

New facilities announced Thursday include nine second-stage housing units in Smithers, 40 more in Kelowna, a 10-bed transition house mainly for Indigenous women and children in Nanaimo, 20 second-stage housing units in Langford, 20 more in Port Alberni and a facility in Prince George with 18 transition house spaces, 16 units of second-stage housing and 21 rental townhouses.

The first phase of funding includes a new 10-bed facility in Chilliwack that started operation Oct. 1, and a 12-bed facility plus second-stage and rental homes in Kitimat that was announced in August. Also funded are seven beds with second-stage housing in Invermere announced last spring.

Other facilities in the works are 40 units of second-stage housing in Kamloops, 20 permanent housing units in Burnaby, and a 10-bed facility in Vancouver for women who have experienced human trafficking and exploitation.


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