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Construction starts on home for at-risk women in Victoria

The Anawim Companion Society started work May 17 on the new facility
Sara Neely, director of philanthropic services for Victoria Foundation, donors Carole and Clint Forster, Dan Greco, president of Anawim Companions Society, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, and Melanie Ransom, director of communications and engagement with Aryze Developments, are seen at a groundbreaking ceremony May 17 for Anawim’s upcoming Women’s House. (Courtesy of Anawim Companions Society)

A new home for women at risk of homelessness is under construction in Victoria following a groundbreaking ceremony on May 17.

Anawim Companions Society is behind the project, and is aiming to build on the success of their Men’s House, which has helped hundreds of residents since opening in 1991, according to a release.

The project has been a dream of the organization for years, and was kick-started by an anonymous person who donated the property for the home. The society then partnered with Aryze Development, which provided its services at cost to help navigate the zoning and permitting process.

READ MORE: Hero Work digs into another ‘radical renovation’ for Victoria’s Anawim House

“There are shelter spaces in Victoria for women, but maybe not a home like ours that also provides individualized one-on-one support, meeting the person where they are at. We strongly believe that replicating a family atmosphere, while fostering connection, can best help the person regain their confidence to live their best life,” said Dan Greco, president of Anawim Companions Society. “Thanks to the generous contributions of our donors and the great support from (Victoria Mayor Lisa) Helps, council, and the City of Victoria staff, we have officially begun construction on this long-needed facility, one where we can help those who want to be helped, one person at a time.”

Anawim received additional support from the City of Victoria’s Housing Reserve Fund, the Carole and Clint Forster Foundation at the Victoria Foundation, the Sisters of St. Ann, many construction suppliers, local churches, and countless other donors.

The new Women’s House will feature seven private rooms with partial bathrooms, a communal kitchen and communal living spaces.

Incorporating the society’s family model approach, the Women’s House will be able to provide a safe home for women at risk of homelessness due to poverty, fleeing violence or facing various health issues. The approach emphasizes everyone’s individual responsibility to contribute to a healthy, productive living environment, and each resident is expected to participate in the functions of the home by learning the life skills they will need beyond the front door.

In 2020, the Greater Victoria Point-In-Time Homeless Count & Needs Survey reported 487 homeless women in the city, and of those, 243 were in transitional housing, a hotel or someone else’s home.

READ MORE: Greater Victoria facing domestic violence shelter space crisis

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About the Author: Greater Victoria News Staff

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