Tamitik Status of Women (TSW) has presented a proposal to B.C. Housing for the construction of a new facility in Kitimat to consolidate all their activities into one building.
TSW Executive Director Linda Slanina said the organization’s offices and programs are currently located in five different locations around Kitimat, including the main office in the City Centre, Food Share, the free store and the organization’s Transition House, which offers safety and shelter for women and their children who are fleeing from threats or violence.
“Currently we are paying rent for the five different premises. On B.C. Housing’s recommendation, we are consolidating the Transition House with all our existing programs and projects to increase our ability to use support dollars effectively,” said Slanina.
She said TSW has been working with B.C. Housing on the Kitimat Housing Plan, a proposal for a single location, since December 2016, following an initial call for proposals from B.C. Housing in June last year.
“We already knew the needs. Two needs assessments were conducted, in 2012 and 2014, by the Housing Taskforce,” said Slanina.
B.C. Housing suggested TSW repurpose an existing building in Kitimat to house the organization, but Slanina said the organization is pushing for a building that is “built from scratch”.
Even though there is no confirmed funding for the project, TSW hired Terra Housing Consultants to write their proposal, Boni Maddison Architects for the design and John Bandstra for legal services.
In late March, TSW submitted a proposal for $25,000 in project development funds to B.C. Housing. By June 30 TSW will submit a complete proposal to B.C. Housing for Provincial Investment in Affordable Housing (PIAH) funding, even though there is currently no call for proposals.
“We’re going to do the proposal and submit it regardless. If the proposal is there, the hope is that it will receive consideration,” said Slanina. “We want to be ready for the next boom – our intention is to build for boom and bust.”
She said a similar proposal submitted to the District of Kitimat council by Tony Brady of Cedar Ridge Construction wouldn’t have TSW taking the lead on development and or have consolidated all their programs under one roof.
“This project is larger in scale, but still consists of housing, commercial space, and an idea for a social enterprise,” said Slanina. “We have not secured land, but are working with the District of Kitimat Planning Department team to identify and select land.”
The proposed facility will not allow TSW to consolidate their current programs, but to also increase the available housing it can offer, which will be prioritized for women, including housing for young women who are ageing out of the foster care system, or do not have access to safe housing.
Out of the total housing created, the new facility will include a minimum of 10 accessible suites.
It will also include 20 units for longer-term affordable housing to accommodate low-income individuals and will be open to any woman who lives independently, either single, with or without children, or in a long-term stable relationship.
“We haven’t determined unit costs for rent, but they will meet provincial guidelines for affordable housing, and it is our intention to keep the rent as low as possible,” said Slanina.
Priority will be given to women, and there will be no individual units available for men.
However, men will be accepted into these units if they are in a long-term, stable relationship with a woman, and after they have passed a safety screening.
The facility will also include ten units for Second Stage Housing, which will enable women to stay in the unit for up to two years.
Second stage housing assists women who have left abusive relationships make plans for independent living, and includes wrap-around services like skills development.
“The idea is that women with or without children who leave the Transition House, and are in need of housing, can be referred to Second Stage,” said Slanina.
The current Transition House has funding for eight beds, which is often at over capacity.
An application will be submitted to B.C. Housing to increase the number of beds to 14 to coincide with the Transition House moving to the new building (the current Transition House is owned by B.C. Housing).
Slanina said TSW is exploring alternative uses for the current Transition House, which includes an idea for 24-hour day care.
The new facility will also include a community room that can facilitate community programs and meetings. TSW is also working on a plan for a social enterprise, which may or may not be open to the public, to have women living in the second stage units learn and practice skills to help with employability.
“It’s not likely this will be off the ground within the first year of operation of the new building,”
She said as the project moves forward TSW will work together with other housing providers in town and strengthen existing relationships.
“Right now, we’re approaching organizations in Kitimat and Kitamaat Village for letters of support. We are on target for submitting the proposal before the end of June.”