Women who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Greater Victoria could soon have a roof over their heads.
A partnership between the province and the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness Society will see 21 new supportive homes opened for Indigenous women.
“Housing is the foundation on which people build their lives, and everyone in our community deserves a safe and secure home,” said Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake, in a statement. “With the help of our partners, this housing with wraparound supports will provide urgently needed homes for Indigenous women in the community, surrounded by their tradition and culture.”
Spaken House, located at 833 Hillside Ave. and also known as Flower House, is a two-storey apartment building with 21 self-contained units, each featuring a private washroom and mini kitchen. Shared amenities include an office, laundry room, commercial kitchen, dining lounge area and a therapeutic garden with medicinal plants.
Operated by the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness Society, staff will be on site 24/7 to support residents. Culturally appropriate supports for Indigenous women will be provided, as well as access to teachings from elders, traditional foods, cultural crafts and land-based healing, including programming that focuses on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. One-on-one support will also be provided by an elder and “Aunty” on site.
“As we prepare to enter into Spaken House, my heart feels full to have witnessed this become a reality for the women moving in soon,” said elder Gloria Roze. “Our people have been needing this for a long time and I hope it leads to more amazing housing successes. I have seen land-based healing work for our people in positive and profound ways. Culturally supportive housing is a pathway for the spirit and internal growth. You feel the love when you step into Spaken.”
Atira Women’s Resource Society, a non-profit housing provider, helped provide supports and training in creating this program. The province provided $3.8 million to the project and will provide annual operating funding of nearly $1 million.
“Everyone at every level has done their part to make this a reality – Spaken House is beautiful,” said Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi, the society’s executive director. “The Aboriginal Coalition team will work diligently to ensure the environment is safe, builds on a sense of family and community and incorporates pathways to healing and recovery into the programming. ”
Residents begin moving in mid-August.
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