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Representatives from the federal, provincial, and municipal governments were on hand for a sod-turning ceremony for an affordable housing complex in Calgary on Thursday. ((CBC))

About 40 per cent of a new affordable-housing complex in Calgary's northwest will be home to women and families leaving domestic violence.

Of the 83 two-bedroom units in the Brenda Strafford Foundation Affordable Housing Initiative, 33 will house victims of domestic violence, with the remainder made available to people on low incomes.

Representatives from the federal and provincial governments, who contributed $7.9 million in funding to the project, attended Thursday's sod-turning ceremony in the community of Hillhurst-Sunnyside.

Construction on the project, which will include a play area for children and private offices for counsellors, is expected to start in July.

Women who go to emergency shelters are allowed to stay for only 21 days. They'll be allowed to live at the complex for six months, said Jessica Blacklock from the Brenda Strafford Centre.

Dr. Barrie Strafford, who created the foundation and named it after his late wife, said several years of work have gone into getting the project off the ground.

Calgary police say they respond to 1,100 domestic disturbance calls every month. Children under the age of 18 are present in about half of those cases.

Also on Thursday, the Alberta government announced it's investing $1.76 million to create 79 more beds in women's emergency shelters across the province, bringing the total to 617 spaces.

The Alberta Council of Women's Shelters says more than 13,000 women and children used shelters in 2006, but another 14,000 had to be turned away because the shelters were full.