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Housing for women and children escaping violence set to open in Port Alberni

Sage Haven Society — formerly Alberni Community and Women’s Services Society — will operate the facility
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New second-stage safe housing in Port Alberni for women and children escaping violence. Via Tashia Potter

An $8.6-million, 22-unit building in Port Alberni will provide safe homes for women and children leaving violent situations starting next month.

Sage Haven Society — formerly Alberni Community and Women’s Services Society — will operate the facility, called wiikšaḥiquʔił.

Second-stage housing provides short-term homes and supports for women and their children who have been staying in a transition house. They can remain for six to 18 months to give them time to prepare to live independently.

Sage Haven will help residents to apply for social and private-market housing, as well as provide rent subsidies.

Supports also include safety planning, crisis intervention, parenting help, financial literacy and tenancy resources.

The province covered the cost of the two-storey wood-frame building, which has a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units, and will contribute $300,000 a year to operating costs.

The housing is open to women and gender-diverse people, including transgender women, two-spirit and non-binary people, and their dependent children in the Port Alberni region, the province said.

Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions called the opening of the facility “momentous.” The municipality provided the land for the building.

Ellen Frood, Sage Haven executive director, said area residents have been advocating for second-stage housing for seven years.

The society is now accepting applications for the facility, and new residents will move in next month.

Residents will pay 30 per cent of their income for rent or the provincial shelter rate for those receiving income or disability assistance.

The province says it’s working with organizations to build and operate 3,000 new transition housing, second-stage housing and long-term affordable housing spaces for women and children.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com