Women’s History Month, March 2022

Women’s History Month, March 2022

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Surrey Homelessness & Housing Society recognizes and celebrates Women’s History Month in March, as well as International Women’s Day on March 8th. We are acutely aware of the ways in which homelessness and housing instability affect women in unique and challenging ways. As such, it is a priority for SHHS to provide impactful grants to organizations and projects that work to support women and families.

In the 2020 Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver, women represented 25% of those included, with a total of 546 women identified on the day of the count. However, due to the nature of the methodology, women are often underrepresented, and this number is likely higher.

In the 2020 Indigenous Homeless Count, 31% of Indigenous respondents identified as female, compared to 22% of non-Indigenous respondents.

The current housing needs data for Surrey shows that lone-parent families are predominantly women-led households and are facing significant challenges. The incomes of these families are typically lower, while they require larger family-sized units that are often more expensive. An extremely high proportion of lone-parent families who rent are in core housing need.

There is a notable insufficiency in housing and wraparound services to support women and their children facing violence or who are at risk of homelessness, as well as women and girls in the sex trade and women leaving substance use treatment programs. Second-stage transition housing and longer-term affordable housing are needed to enable these women and families to thrive and not return to an abusive partner or lifestyle. Other housing needs that have been identified by vulnerable women and girls in Surrey include: affordable housing with in-house daycare, subsidized housing for larger families, more shelter and safe house options in Surrey and women only housing (especially for mental health clients and those in recovery).

One of the projects that SHHS has helped support is the Maxxine Wright Community Health Centre, an 8000-sq.-ft. integrated centre with 12 emergency shelter beds for women, 24 transitional housing units for single women and mothers and their children, a 59-space childcare centre, community kitchen and healthcare clinic. In 2008, we issued a call for proposals for a one-time $1 million grant. SHHS received and reviewed almost thirty letters of intent, and ultimately, Atira Women’s Resource Society was chosen as the recipient. Atira is a not-for-profit organization committed to the work of ending violence against women through direct, non-barrier service and by striving to increase awareness of the scope and impact of violence against women and children on our communities. In February of 2010, the Maxxine Wright Centre opened its doors. The community building in the heart of Whalley continues to provide services for at-risk women and girls who struggle with substance use, mental health issues and violence today.

SHHS also provided a separate $75,000 responsive grant to Atira Women’s Resource Society to transform Motel Hollywood at 9155 King George Blvd. into Little’s Place – as well as our inaugural impact investment loan of $250,000 to assist Atira in purchasing the motel. As Atira already owned the two adjacent sites, this land assembly created a re-development opportunity that would lead to even more social housing unites being created in the future. Little’s Place provides 23 units of long-term transitional and supportive housing to women who experience multiple barriers and chronic homelessness. SHHS also provided a $45,000 grant to support the development of Little’s Two, located right in front of Little’s Place, on the same property. This 6300-sq.-ft. facility is nearing completion and will provide 44 units of supportive, long-term housing for women.

The Elizabeth Fry Society’s Rosewood housing project is also nearing completion. EFry is a non-profit organization focused on delivering gender-specific support with the goal of supporting criminalized and marginalized women, girls and children in achieving their full potential. The Rosewood is a 55,000-sq.-ft. building that will accommodate women and children, providing 40 shelter beds, 55 units of affordable apartments and 15 units for young Indigenous women that will belong to the Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association (FRAFCA). In addition to shelter and housing, there will also be a medical centre where women and children can access doctors, nurse practitioners, a pharmacy and some dental care. SHHS helped Elizabeth Fry with fundraising over $1 million to build this facility, located near Surrey Memorial Hospital on 137 Street. Ground has been broken on the project and it is expected to be complete by this summer.

Maintaining current housing stock and quality facilities for women and children is also crucial. SHHS recently granted $35,000 to EFry to support painting, repairs and maintenance at their Ellendale facility. Ellendale accommodates up to 24 women and babies and provides safe and supportive recovery services for women. YWCA Arbour House and Alder Gardens is a housing community that provides single mothers and their children with a stable and affordable place to call home, with wraparound support services. SHHS recently provided $31,000 to YWCA to repair heating controls and replace worn flooring in high traffic areas.

The Surrey Women’s Centre’s Mobile Assault Response Team (SMART) travels through Surrey throughout the night, helping women and girls who are being sexually exploited and fleeing from violence. SHHS provided funding for their mobile assistance program van to provide mobile outreach services for women and girls and help them access safety, shelter, medical, legal and other social services.

Surrey Homelessness & Housing Society is honoured to be able to support these impactful, woman-focused housing projects as well as many others. Together, we can make a difference and achieve our vision that everyone in Surrey has a home.

Please click HERE to see the Surrey Women’s Resource Card, which contains contact information for services and housing for women in Surrey. We would also like to acknowledge the Surrey Vulnerable Women and Girls Working Group (SVWG), which consists of representatives from a broad range of service agencies and government ministries primarily focused on health, safety and support services for women and girls in Surrey, and whose report data was used in this article.

SHHS will be announcing our 2022 call for proposals this spring. Please stay tuned for more information, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the grants program or would like to discuss the eligibility of a potential project, program or initiative that will reduce or prevent homelessness in Surrey. You can reach SHHS by emailing: letizia_romei@vancity.com.

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