Accommodation at the Yellowknife women's shelter expands for 8
'It's one of the best areas that we put our money into at this time,' says Housing Minister Caroline Cochrane
The Yellowknife Women's Society is celebrating eight new rooms for single, homeless women in the city, reducing overcrowding at the women's emergency shelter.
By grand opening Wednesday, all units were spoken for, with a growing waiting list.
"It has been a very, very busy year and a half," said Bree Denning, executive director of the Women's Society. The Society received funding from the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.
The project cost $460,000, according to Caroline Cochrane, minister responsible for housing in the Northwest Territories.
"Which is actually very small when you consider that eight women will be housed," she said.
"For a very long time, the emergency shelter acted as a shelter, but also as a permanent house for folks that just needed a bit of support to move on," said Denning.
The aim is to give women more independence, dignity and privacy in these new units while "getting them up on their feet" Denning said.
Women were selected based on how long they've been at the emergency shelter, with those who had been there longer given priority.
The main requirement is that the women make rent every month; either $900 of their income support cheque, or 30 per cent of their income if they are employed. They can stay for as long as they need, Denning said.
The women are free to go upstairs and access shelter resources, including a cafeteria and a staff member available to teach life skills, like budgeting and cooking.
"These women — eight women — will now have a home for Christmas and that's the most exciting gift that I could give to anyone," said Cochrane.
"It's one of the best areas that we put our money into at this time."
The last of the women moved in Wednesday.
Just a start, says executive director
But this is just a step toward addressing homelessness in the city, said Denning.
"Unfortunately homelessness is an ongoing problem," Denning said. "It's a start but we have to keep working."
Minister Cochrane agreed, saying: "We still have a long way to go."
She's hoping similar housing units at the Yellowknife Salvation Army will be next.
With files from Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi