A specialized transition house is set to open in Chilliwack this fall for women at risk of homelessness.
The 10-bedroom house that will be known as the Women’s Centre, has funding from BC Housing and the support of community partners, said Patti MacAhonic, executive director of the Ann Davis Transition Society.
“This is a perfect fit for the good work that Ann Davis Society continues to do in our community,” said MacAhonic.
“The road to get here has been extremely difficult.”
She was bitterly disappointed when her proposal to open winter housing at Five Corners for women was turned down by council because the location was not seen as ideal. The double whammy of zero affordable housing and homeless camps shut down in October and November meant women of all ages and backgrounds were put into “horrific situations,” as a result, she noted.
She offered appreciation and thanks to BC Housing, and extended “a big thank you” to Leo Vanderhoek, who approached her with the offer to buy his already zoned property, to help make a difference for women fleeing violence in Chilliwack.
That was on the heels of another community member, who boldly came forward with an offer of a short-term lease on a house. ADTS reps jumped at it, and have been using it for a temporary transition house, as a stop gap measure, until this scenario was cemented.
In three months in the short-term rental, they housed 75 women safely, she underlined, “with no complaints” and employed about 14 women with full-time jobs.
The new centre is crucial.
“This service is critically needed in our community and although we are extremely pleased, this is a short-term solution and we need to work further on getting permanent second-stage housing for both women and children in our community where 40 per cent of our homeless are women.”
The new Women’s Centre will be a specialized transition house for single women, having received funding for 10 beds. The centre will offer emergency and transitional housing, legal assistance, family reunification and counselling.
“We receive more than 1,300 crisis calls each year.
“Right now, staff are also dealing with an increase in the number of women fleeing human trafficking in the area, as well as a lack of affordable housing.”
Overall the organization maximizes what they can offer from the Young Road headquarters of ADTS.
“Our services are broad, we see over 5,000 persons per year and we do it with very little,” MacAhonic said. “Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of women and children who need our support. We also work with all family members, including men, on prevention.”
Last year in B.C., more than 12,300 women and children were assisted by provincially funded transition houses, second-stage housing and safe homes.
ADTS has been providing services to women, children and families for 38 years in Chilliwack as a registered charity.
The ADTS Women’s Centre is slated to open Sept. 30 after renovations are completed on the building.