The District of Kitimat has agreed in principle to turn over a piece of land to Tamitik Status of Women for a planned new structure to consolidate its programs under one roof.
The project at 461 Quatsino Boulevard would not only gather together existing programs such as the transition house and Food Share, but add longer-term affordable housing for younger women leaving foster care and for women needing stable housing.
Key to the proposal is increasing the number of transition house beds from the current 8, to 14.
Tamitik submitted a request to the provincial government’s BC Housing agency in the spring for a $25,000 planning grant and followed that up this summer with a comprehensive construction proposal.
It has yet to receive a response to either request but Tamitik executive director Linda Slanina said it remains confident its building proposal will be accepted with an eye to construction starting as early as next year.
“We are thrilled to be able to assist a non-profit group like Tamitik Status of Women that has done so much positive work in our community,” said Kitimat mayor Phil Germuth.
“Not only do they house and protect some of our most vulnerable residents, but they also do a tremendous amount of proactive advocacy work.
“A project like this one is beneficial to the entire community, and we are just happy we could contribute.”
The gift of the land is contingent upon the District reaching an affordable housing agreement with Tamitik, but in the interim consultants hired by Tamitik are being allowed access to the location to determine construction-related requirements.
That affordable housing agreement would have Tamitik commit to providing housing for a minimum of 25 years.
The District has also stipulated that the land, approximately .76 ha of a vacant and largely cleared parcel on the left hand side of Quatsino after turning right from Lahakas Boulevard South, revert back to it if construction has not started within three years.
That’s a standard clause in gifting or sales agreements, but that timeline can also be extended by council.
Tamitik will also bear the cost of providing municipal water, sewage and other services to the planned structure.
Tamitik now rents five locations throughout Kitimat and the consolidation plan would increase operating efficiencies, said Slanina.
The organization has been working closely with BC Housing for several years to develop its plans, which included assessments of existing housing options to determine what is needed within the community.
New housing planned for the complex includes 20 affordable units for low-income women who live independently, either single, with or without children, or in a long-term stable relationship.
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 10 units where women who have left abusive relationships can stay for up to two years while making plans for independent living, and improving their skills.
“This project will provide wrap-around support to help our clients gain the skills to be successful as long-term tenants in market housing,” said Kristen Guite from Tamitik.
“The intent is to help advance women along the continuum of housing from homeless, or at risk of homeless, to transition house, second stage housing, and eventually to living successfully in longer term housing in market rental units.”