The modular housing development planned for Hillside Avenue will be similar to the one on the corner of Main St. and Terminal Ave. in Vancouver, built to provide housing for low-income people. News files

New housing planned for Indigenous women in Victoria at risk of homelessness

Temporary complex will provide 21 modular housing units with 24/7 support services on Hillside Ave.

A new partnership between the provincial government, the City of Victoria and local housing advocates will see new modular housing built for Indigenous women with round-the-clock support services.

Twenty-one homes, each with their own bathroom and kitchen, will be built in the 800-block of Hillside Avenue, as part of the Evergreen Terrace complex.

The housing will be temporary, operational for approximately five years, and will include mental health and addictions treatment and support as well as shared amenity space, access to laundry facilities and custodial and maintenance services.

The endeavour is a collaboration between the provincial government, the City, Atira Women’s Resource Society and the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness.

Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi, executive director of the Aboriginal Coalition, said she was pleased to see the creation of a safe space for Indigenous women to call home.

“The women we support face multiple barriers, are often caught up in the chaos of domestic violence, and are at high risk, Hunt-Jinnouchi explained. “Culturally supportive housing has the potential to transform lives.”

The Aboriginal Coalition works in partnership with the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, focusing on a culturally-specific approach to homelessness on the traditional Coast Salish, Nuu-chah-nulth and Kwakwaka’wakw territories.

They currently operate the Indigenous Women’s Circle, a program designed to strengthen Indigenous self-identity, provide life skills and knowledge around food security, while building a sense of family and community.

“Indigenous women are more likely than other women in Canada to experience both violence and homelessness,” said Mayor Lisa Helps, calling the housing at Evergreen Terrace an opportunity to interrupt those trends.

“[It will] bring culturally responsive, safe, and affordable stability to the lives of Indigenous women in Victoria, while building community,” she added.

The project is part of the province’s 30-point plan for housing, as the government invests $550 million over the next 10 years to help build 1,750 new homes for Indigenous people in B.C.

At Evergreen Terrace, the province will kick in $3 million to build housing and provide support services.

Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Scott Fraser called these new supportive homes “a signal that government and its Indigenous partners are here to help Indigenous women.”

“Indigenous women are the strength of their communities, families and culture, but for too long they have also been victims of violence, homelessness and poverty,” Fraser said.

Pending municipal approvals, construction will begin in fall 2018, and is expected to be complete by March 2019.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

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