PEI

Charlottetown group launches drive for homeless women's shelter

A grassroots group is working to set up a homeless shelter for women in Charlottetown, after lack of funding forced the last one to close about six years ago.

Blooming House hopes to create a safe place for homeless women by spring 2019

Liz Corney of Blooming House says homeless women in Charlottetown need a safe place where they can go. (Laura Meader/CBC)

A grassroots group is working to set up a shelter for homeless women in Charlottetown. 

Liz Corney, co-founder of Blooming House, said the group is in planning mode now. 

"We've got a website, a Facebook page and we are working with government on proposals," she said. 

The Charlottetown women's shelter Grandmother's House closed in 2012 due to lack of funding. (CBC News)

Corney said the Blooming House group has been meeting since January.

The group is made up of people interested in entrepreneurship and business, who've decided to put some of their energy toward getting a women's shelter up and running.

"We knew this was a need," Corney said.

The only women's homeless shelter in Charlottetown — Grandmother's House — closed in 2012 due to lack of funding. 

Advocates say homeless women are at risk by not having anywhere to go. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

"Right now, there are a couple of men's shelters … there is a shelter for women who are escaping abusive relationships, but there is not one for just homeless women," Corney said. 

"We are trying to fill the need, fill the gap of homeless women not having any place to sleep in the city," she said.

No Location Yet

The group said they want to have a shelter which would provide beds for about eight women. They haven't pinpointed an exact location but want it to be in the downtown area. 

"We are looking for property," Corney said. "It will probably be a three-to-four bedroom home." 

Bedford MacDonald House is a men's shelter in Charlottetown, operated by the Salvation army, with support from the province. There is no women's equivalent in the city. (Laura Meader/CBC)

The group's hope is to provide more than just beds. Corney said she hopes the shelter can become a hub to connect the women to other forms of assistance such as education, counselling or more permanent housing. 

"So that it's not just 'in the door, out the door,'" she said.

Shelter talked about in Legislature

Hannah Bell, Green Party MLA for Charlottetown-Parkdale, has spoken with the group and brought up the issue in the legislature recently. 

"Emergency shelter provision is one of those really critical things that we need," said Bell. 

Bell, before becoming a politician, was involved in a number of women's advocacy groups. 

The lack of a shelter for homeless women puts them at risk.

"There's a lot of women ending up in very unsafe situations," she said.

Bell said government has a role to provide support but she also believes a lot can be done on a community level too.

"It's about taking care of everybody," she said. 

Funding needed

At this point, the Blooming House group is working to get officially recognised as a charity. 

The group will then work to secure funding for the project through private fundraising, as well as provincial and federal government funding to help pay for the shelter and operating costs. The exact cost of the project is unknown.

It is hoped the shelter will open by spring 2019.

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