A transition house for women and children fleeing domestic violence in Charlotte County hopes to build second-stage housing next year and is studying the possibility of creating third-stage housing.

Fundy Region Transition House in St. Stephen offers emergency shelter for 30 days, as well as a day client program for non-residents, and outreach services, said executive director Lynne Matheson.

But there is no so-called second-stage housing to help them through the next year to 18 months of rebuilding their lives, she said.

'That continuum of support is the key.' - Lynne Matheson, Fundy Region Transition House

"It would make a tremendous difference," Matheson said. "It's very difficult for a woman's life to fall apart and be put back together in 30 days.

"That continuum of support is the key."

Last year, Fundy Region Transition House started reviewing its non-elderly single clients to see who among them couldn't afford market rents.

It found about 90 women over a 27-month period could have benefited from affordable housing, if it were available, said Matheson.

Although there is affordable housing for families and for seniors, there's nothing for non-elderly single women, she said.

6-unit, $500K project

The transition house wants to build six units next to its property — four single units and two two-bedroom units, including one that's fully accessible.

It has "run into a few snags" seeking funding from all three levels of government for the estimated $500,000 project, including about half from New Brunswick Housing's affordable rental housing program and some from the federal government's Homeless Partnering Strategy.

But Matheson remains "very positive." She hopes to be able to start building in the spring. "That's our goal, but we'll see."

The operating costs will be covered by the subsidies the transition house gets from the provincial government, she said. The women's equality branch in Fredericton has also committed $25,000 a year to help fund a part-time co-ordinator.

Residents would need to meet certain criteria, such as accessing programs and services, attending school and finding work, said Matheson.

Meanwhile, the Charlotte County charity is also researching gaps in longer-term services and possible models for third-stage housing.

"If women have a continuum of support and services over five years, let's say, then they're more apt to break the cycle of violence and poverty that they're living in, become more self-sufficient" and empowered, she said.

With files from Information Morning Saint John