If you are a single mother fleeing violence, struggling with mental health challenges or addiction issues or recently released from prison, where do you go when you don’t have stable housing.
You are at risk of losing custody of your child without a safe home. You can go to the Y-Women’s Shelter, where you can stay for around 30 days while their amazing staff support you and your family to try find the next safe step. However, the huge challenge is that there is no next step for many women who need that longer term safe, supportive housing.
The Elizabeth Fry Society (EFry) has been working to change this for many years, recognizing that without safe, supportive long-term transitional housing, women could not even begin to stabilize their lives, would lose their children and the cycle of trauma would just continue. This is where the housing program at EFry comes in to support women and families in our community.
EFry currently operates 96 units of affordable housing and 5 units of women’s second stage supportive housing. In 2014, EFry established the first women’s second stage supportive housing program in our community, Family Stepping Stones. The Family Stepping Stones program houses five women and their children, supporting them while they rebuild their lives. Women can stay at Family Stepping Stones for up to 2 years while participating in individualized programming to meet their needs.
What makes Family Stepping Stones unique is that with 2-bedroom units it allows women to maintain custody of their children while receiving the help they need to stabilize their lives. However, with only 5 units of this type of housing in our community, the need far outweighs the supply. In November we received the long-awaited announcement from the BC Government to address this lack of safe, supportive housing for women by committing to build 40 units of women’s second stage housing for our community.
This is a significant investment that will change the lives of countless women in the years to come. EFry is grateful to be working with BC Housing to make this project a reality. The project team is currently exploring options for sites for this exciting new build.
These 40-units are a fantastic start in supporting women but the need will still outweigh the supply. EFry will continue to advocate for and develop more transitional and affordable housing for women and families in Kamloops