British Columbia

280 transition homes on the way for B.C. women and children fleeing violence

A national group representing providers of shelters and transition houses says surveys of women and children escaping violence across Canada reveal most of them can't get the help they need due to lack of capacity or resources.

B.C.'s housing minister says 12 projects are part of $734M in funding for transitional housing

Women's Shelters Canada says up to 75 per cent of women and children seeking housing after escaping violence aren't getting it. (Getty Images)

A national group representing providers of shelters and transition houses says surveys of women and children escaping violence across Canada reveal most of them can't get the help they need due to lack of capacity or resources.

Women's Shelters Canada executive director Lise Martin says surveys of a 24-hour period have been done every year since 2014, and the latest one found 404 requests for help, but only 100 women and children were taken into a shelter.

She says the results for the past four years have suggested up to 75 per cent of those seeking housing aren't getting it.

Martin says B.C. is starting to offer some relief to women and children, with plans to build 280 new transition homes in 12 projects located across the province.

Makenna Rielly, of the Women's Transition House Society in Victoria, says construction of second-stage housing in the suburban community of Langford would allow women and children a safe home for up to 18 months so they can transition to a new life.

B.C. Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the 12 projects are part of the government's investment of $734 million over the next decade to build 1,500 transition housing spaces.

Shelter and more

One of the recipients of funding announced today is the Alberni Community and Womens' Services Society in Port Alberni.

Executive director Ellen Frood said the money would allow it to provide women and children fleeing violence with housing over a longer period of time.

"Women will often return to a relationship because they have nowhere to go, and so they continue to live in danger," Frood told All Points West host Robyn Burns.

"This housing is very critical in letting women know there is a safe place for them to go."

Frood said transition housing can be a venue for other supports: employment resources, literacy programs and other programs to make women more independent.

Joanne Baker, executive director of the B.C. Society of Transition Houses, said Thursday's announcement could help women turn their lives around.

"It's not just shelter: it's the wrap-around supports these services provide, too," Baker said.

She welcomed the Thursday announcement, but said it reflects "just a fraction" of what's needed.

Many older shelters are in dire need of new funds and throughout B.C., ongoing programs are sometimes quite understaffed.

Where to get help

Rape Crisis Centre 24-hour crisis line: 604-255-6344 or toll free 1-877-392-7583

Battered Women's Support Services: 604-687-1867

VictimLink B.C.: 1-800-563-0808

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868; Live Chat counselling at kidshelpphone.ca

With files from CBC Radio One's All Points West

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