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Province commits to E. Fry transitional housing project

Bally Bassi, (left), Kathi Heim, Mayor Lyn Hall, Lheidli T'enneh elder Leonard Quaw, and Parliamentary Secretary Mitzi Dean. Bill Phillips photo
Bally Bassi, (left), Kathi Heim, Mayor Lyn Hall, Lheidli T’enneh elder Leonard Quaw, and Parliamentary Secretary Mitzi Dean celebrate the province’s commitment to transitional housing units in Prince George. Bill Phillips photo

The transformation of 2880 15th Avenue from a group of decades old barracks-style buildings to a brand new transitional housing unit is one step closer.

Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity, Friday reiterated the government’s commitment to create the new housing development with 18 transition house beds, 16 units of second-stage housing and 21 townhouses for permanent affordable housing for women and their children who are leaving violent relationships. The facility will be located on property now housing Studio 2880, its gift shop, and CFIS Community Radio.

“We have a clear responsibility to help women and children in need in Prince George and around the province. Our government is working hard to make sure that help is always available,” said Dean. “These new homes in Prince George will assure women and children in violent situations that there are safe and supportive spaces they can turn to and begin the journey of rebuilding.”

The project will be funded through the Building BC: Women’s Transition Fund, a $734-million investment over 10 years to build 1,500 transition housing, second-stage housing and long-term housing spaces for women and children leaving violence. This first step of the fund will build 280 new homes through 12 projects in communities throughout the province.

The dollar amount of the provincial commitment for the Prince George project, however, has not yet been determined. The project has been on the books for about three years now. The City of Prince George rezoning the property in 2017.

“On behalf of city council, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the B.C. government for this important investment in the health and well-being of vulnerable women and children in Prince George,” said Lyn Hall, mayor, Prince George. “The city is pleased to be providing land at below-market value as part of this partnership as well as reduced development cost charges and other benefits. This is another great example of how different levels of government can collaborate and achieve great things for the benefit of residents. Council also wishes to acknowledge and thank the Elizabeth Fry Society for the critical role it plays in our community.”

The society will manage the day-to-day operations and will oversee the tenant selection process for the housing. Elizabeth Fry has been committed to serving women and children since 1979. Its current transition houses, Amber House and Eagle’s Nest, provide first contact, women-centred services and referrals to community resources.

“All too often, women are faced with barriers such as poverty and homelessness in their journey to find their way to a safe life with their children,” said Kathi Heim, executive director, Prince George and District Elizabeth Fry Society and Housing Society. “This provincial initiative will provide women and their children the full continuum of affordable housing supports where they can take the time to rebuild a safer life and future. We are proud to partner with the Government of B.C. and the City of Prince George to provide a stronger, more comprehensive response to the needs of women and their children leaving domestic violence and abuse.”

Proposed support services include helping women achieve their goals and develop necessary skills to live independently. This may include individual and group counselling, resources and referrals to services such as employment readiness training and workshops about building healthy relationships, financial literacy, self-care and others.

The project is going through BC Housing’s development and approval process, with an expected construction start in fall 2019.

Other transition home projects approved in northern B.C. include:

* Kitimat – Tamitik Status of Women Association will operate 12 transition house beds, 10 units of second-stage housing and 20 affordable rental homes, including 10 accessible units for women and families in need;

* Smithers – Northern Society for Domestic Peace will operate second-stage housing for young women and young mothers, and second-stage housing for women and women with children.



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