This year, YW Calgary will have a lot more space for women fleeing domestic abuse in the city.
The organization’s Sherrif W King Home facility, located in Inglewood, is nearing completion with the first affordable housing residents expected to begin moving in soon, and crisis shelter space availability to follow later in the year.
The shelter will nearly double the YW’s emergency capacity in the city.
“I’m so glad that we have so many people out to celebrate for us, because today we are celebrating YW’s first purpose-built affordable housing facility,” said YW Calgary CEO Sue Tomney.
The redeveloped housing will provide apartment spaces for women and their children to rebuild their lives, past the 21-day emergency shelter limit.
“Here, families will begin the journey to recovery, and they will grow, they will thrive in this wonderful community setting,” Tomney said.
The complex will contain 21 two- and three -bedroom units, as well as access to YWCA programs and supports.
Tomney said that the construction, when complete, would double the amount of women and children that can access the organization’s crisis shelter spaces.
“The reality is we are always full, and even doubling our capacity, we will likely be full for a lot of the time,” she said.
“This purpose-built facility and the resources that we are able to raise both from government and the community will allow us to expand our outreach services. That will give us the finances to be able to go out and meet women where they’re at before they have to access shelters.”
Project supported by community, all orders of government
YW Calgary was provided $10.4 million for the shelter component, and $7.1 million for the affordable housing component by the Government of Canada. The Government of Alberta provided $2.4 million for the affordable housing portion, and is currently looking at ways of funding the shelter portion.
The City of Calgary provided nearly $2.5 million in funding for the project, along with land and expedited permit approvals.
“The fact that it combines affordable housing with trauma informed crisis care is critical for families that are fleeing violence,” said Mayor Jyoti Gondek.
“This supports women that have the courage to leave those types of situations, and I’m thrilled that we were able to work together as three orders of government who are absolutely committed to taking care of our constituents.”
Minister of Seniors, Community, and Community Housing Jeremy Nixon said that the project had a very personal connection to him, as his grandmother fled domestic abuse.
“My grandfather and my step grandfather were incredibly abusive individuals, and mistreated both my uncle my dad, as well as my grandmother. And at one point in my dad’s life and my grandmother’s life, they had the courage to flee, and it probably saved their lives,” Nixon said.
“So, I know just from my own personal experience, how critical it is that when people make that decision to flee domestic violence, that there’s a place for them to go.”
More affordable housing on the way
Minister Nixon said that the Government of Alberta is committed to building 25,000 new affordable housing spaces across the province through the Stronger Foundations Program.
The province announced in December 2022, $55 million in funding for affordable housing projects to be built over the next 10 years.
“We’re seeing gaps for people experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, for seniors in our community, and accessible housing needs for folks with disabilities in their community,” Nixon said.
Calgary Skyview MP George Chahal said that the new space was part of the government’s overall commitment to housing through the National Housing COVID Investment Fund, and the Rapid Housing Initative.
“Today’s announcement shows our government’s resolve to improve housing conditions for women and children in Calgary and across the country. And I can confidently say, more is on the way,” said Chahal.
Mayor Gondek said that the City of Calgary is already working towards divesting city-owned lands to projects like the Sherrif W King Home, and that council would continue to actively push towards doing so for future projects.
“I think one of the things we need to do is understand that the speed by which we give up land that we’re not using matters,” she said.
“It matters to people who need a roof over their head and it matters to families that are fleeing situations of crisis, so absolutely we’ll keep pushing on that.”