Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has said that “Having access to a safe, stable place to call home is crucial for anyone who is experiencing, or is at risk of, homelessness,Indigenous people are over-represented amongst the homeless population. And homeless women, especially those who are Indigenous, can face tremendous risks. That’s why I’m really pleased to see this project moving ahead.”
The Government of British Columbia is partnering with the City of Victoria, Atira Women’s Resource Society and the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness, to build new modular housing for Indigenous women, with 24/7 support services
Once operational, each of the 21 homes will include a bathroom and kitchen. Residents will also benefit from:
- 24/7 on-site staff support, including daily meal services, employment training, and culturally specific and life-skills programming;
- Health and wellness services, including mental-health and addictions treatment;
- A shared amenity space and access to laundry facilities; and
- Custodial and maintenance services.
“Indigenous women are the strength of their communities, families and culture, but for too long they have also been victims of violence, homelessness and poverty,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “By providing a safe, secure home and culturally appropriate support services, as we are with these new supportive homes in Victoria, we are sending the signal that government and its Indigenous partners are here to help Indigenous women in the spirit of reconciliation, and ultimately, in respect for their culture, history and traditions.”
“The need for housing in Victoria has reached a critical level,” said Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake. “These new modular homes will provide Indigenous women in need with an affordable and safe place to call home, while accessing the support services that they need to reach their potential.”
Neighbouring residents and businesses will have an opportunity to learn more about the project at an open house. Open house details will be announced in the coming weeks.
The temporary housing will be operational for approximately five years, and will be on the 800 block of Hillside Avenue, as part of the Evergreen Terrace complex.
“Indigenous women are more likely than other women in Canada to experience both violence and homelessness,” said Lisa Helps, mayor of the City of Victoria. “This housing at Evergreen Terrace provides the opportunity to interrupt those trends, and bring culturally responsive, safe, and affordable stability to the lives of Indigenous women in Victoria, while building community.”
“We are thrilled to be involved in this critically important project that we believe will help address the root causes of homelessness for Indigenous women, which are the loss of children and connection to culture and land,” said Janice Abbott, CEO, Atira Women’s Resource Society. “In addition to providing the immediate safety and security of stable housing, we will work with the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness and the female tenants to help rebuild those connections. We truly believe that if we can find a way to support women in parenting their children and provide children with the opportunity to be raised in their families, we can help eliminate homelessness and violence against Indigenous women.”
Pending municipal approvals, construction is anticipated to begin in fall 2018, and will be complete by March 2019.
“The Aboriginal Coalition currently supports Indigenous women through a program called the Indigenous Women’s Circle, geared towards strengthening Indigenous self-identity, providing life skills and food security and building a sense of family and community. We are very pleased that through the modular housing project, we can now also offer a safe space for the women to call home,” said Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi, executive director, Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness. “The women we support face multiple barriers, are often caught up in the chaos of domestic violence, and are at high risk. Culturally supportive housing has the potential to transform lives. I am optimistic and excited about the possibilities.”