New housing to help Indigenous women and children fleeing domestic violence

New housing to help Indigenous women and children fleeing domestic violence

Indigenous women and children fleeing domestic violence will have a safe place to go once four new homes are built in Halifax.

At a news conference Friday, Halifax MP Andy Fillmore announced the federal and provincial governments are committing $824,000 to the project — the first of its kind in Nova Scotia.

The one and two-bedroom units will provide affordable housing for extended periods of time for off-reserve victims of violence. And through this funding, the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre in Halifax will provide counselling, parenting and employment programs.

A huge need

Pamela Glode Desrochers, the centre's executive director, said the new housing is a real game changer.  

"This is going to give women a real opportunity to get out of violent situations with their kids," Glode Desrochers told reporters.

"This is something that we've been working for for a long time. We know that there's a huge need. The big difference for our people will be that they will have that culturally safe space, along with all the 28 wraparound programs and services that will support them through this."

The centre will help the women transition into the temporary housing and then get them into long-term housing.

Glode Desrochers estimates there are close to 12,000 off-reserve Indigenous people living in the Halifax region. The centre helped about 4,900 people last year.

"So we know that there's a real need, we know that there's so much pressure out there for these women in violent situations to stay because they don't have an alternative place to go," Glode Desrochers said.

Land sought to build housing

The centre is still looking for land to build the housing. Victims will be able to stay in the new one and two-bedroom units for extended periods of time, if necessary.

"The numbers will vary because if somebody needs more supports then they may take a little bit longer to transition through, but the goal is to have people in and out within a one-year time frame," Glode Desrochers said.

Joanne Bernard, the minister responsible for Housing Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, said the housing will provide women and children leaving domestic violence or who may be involved with the child welfare system with a safe, culturally inclusive space to help them work through their challenges.

Overall, Housing Nova Scotia is investing $5.2 million in federal funding to build and renovate shelters and transition houses for victims of domestic violence.