By Tim Kalinowski on November 20, 2020.
The Lethbridge YWCA is hoping to secure a new, larger space for its women’s shelter by December.
While final negotiations on the real estate purchase have not yet been concluded, YWCA CEO Shannon Hansen says if all goes according to plan they will be able to more than double their current capacity to help women and families fleeing domestic violence and to secure permanent supportive housing for women in need in the community.
“We are looking for a location that would not only provide a different space for our domestic violence women’s shelter,” she says, “and then be able to increase our ability to serve the number of people we support, but also to provide permanent supportive housing for women in that same facility. We are hoping to have upwards of 90 beds available, and spaces available, moving forward.”
Money to purchase the ready-made property is expected to come from the federal government’s billion-dollar Rapid Rehousing Plan fund, and Hansen says this potential expansion of the women’s shelter is desperately needed.
“Right now we are funded for 24 beds, but we do that in only seven rooms,” Hansen explains.
“We serve up to 30 before we max out capacity. With COVID, we are only able to take 14 in our regular space, and we have opened up a gym space to be able to support an additional six. Because of COVID we can’t support as many people, and we have been at capacity or over capacity for the last several weeks; so we are turning people away because we can’t take anymore people here.”
“Turning people away with domestic violence increasing, makes us concerned,” she says. “In fact just a few weeks ago there were two deaths in the Alberta central zone due to domestic violence, and that speaks to the increased need due to COVID pressures on our society.”
Hansen confirms the current Harbour House facility will continue to be used for permanent supportive housing for women in need in the community even after purchase of the new building is completed.
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