June 13, 2013 - 6:00 AM
KAMLOOPS - A child can act as a mother's lifeline when life gets tough, but for many women that have recently dealt with incarceration or detox, they do not have a safe place to go with their children and that can mean having their children taken away.
The Elizabeth Fry Society believes in a women's right to have their children with them and in having a place where they can feel safe and have been trying to secure women's only transitional housing for Kamloops since a 2008 study identified the need.
A recent donation of $25,000 has the group one big step closer to making this a reality, something Kamloops Homelessness Action Plan spokesperson Tangie Genshorek says is an important piece to relieving the homelessness issues in the city.
Genshorek says at least 60 units are needed for women specifically and while there are about a dozen beds available exclusively to women through different agencies they are in mixed population facilities (male and female occupants) and many do not allow children or are targeted more towards recovery programs instead of the transition process.
“A lot of success for women and children comes from keeping them together, and it's really hard to keep them together, especially if coming off addiction or incarceration,” Genshorek says, “We need to keep them together no matter what.”
She notes some women have come from abusive situations and find it hard to be in the mixed housing complexes while others simply do not feel comfortable around men or without their children nearby.
Having transitional, also known as temporary, supported or second stage housing, is a key component to getting women to a point where they can find jobs and permanent housing.
“We're at a new point of understanding. You don't just come out of the shelter after 30 days and into a house. You need time to sort through what you've been through, you need help—to find a job, to find a lease that's big enough for you and your kids,” she says.
Transitional housing exclusively for women would be a new step for Kamloops, Genshorek says, but she is confident the partnerships in the city will help ease homelessness for these women and their children.
“The city is big enough to accomplish a lot, but small enough to know each other and work together. We're lucky to be able to partner across agencies a lot.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013