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Canada's First Transition House For Abused Retired Women

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 16 December 2003 00:00

The holiday season may be a time of heightened festivity and retirement may be a time of relaxed pleasure for many Canadians, but both may mean aggravated violence and abuse for others. British Columbian women over 65, who are seeking sanctuary from abusive relationships, finally have one refuge. White Rock, BC, one of Canada's premier retirement Meccas, is also host to Canada's first transition house for retired women facing abuse and violence.

"This is the first transition house of its kind in Canada," said program co-ordinator Suzi Kram of the Atira Women's Resource Society . "A typical transition house's maximum stay of 30 days is not sufficient to respond to the myriad of issues confronting senior women who want to leave an abusive relationship. It will allow for a stay of up to six months in a serene environment, with a limited number of residents and no children."

Atira Women's Resource Society is a community-based organization that supports women (and their children) who are experiencing the impact of violence committed against them by their intimate partners. Atira is committed to ending violence against women through providing direct service, as well as working to increase awareness of the scope and impact of family violence on communities.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) , our federal housing agency, proudly celebrates the creation of this special shelter. CMHC provided $174,688 in funding to the new four-unit project through CMHC's Shelter Enhancement Program (SEP). SEP assists in the repair, rehabilitation, purchase or construction of shelters for victims of family violence.

"This innovative housing initiative will assist a particularly vulnerable segment of our society -- abused elderly women," said the Honourable Steven Mahoney, Secretary of State responsible for CMHC. "The Senior Women's Transition House demonstrates what can be achieved when governments work together with the local community to address an identified need."

The number of seniors per capita in the South Surrey/White Rock area is twice the national average, emphasizing the demand for this kind of facility.

"It has taken a real community effort to bring this project to fruition," said Kram. "With the support of funders and a group of volunteers, Atira is pleased to finally be able to offer a service to women in the community who have asked for our help."

Community contributions include:

  • Financial support from The Real Estate Foundation of BC , the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women's Services, the Vancouver Foundation and the Lohn Foundation.

  • Operating funding to assist with maintenance, heat, hydro and municipal services from the BC Housing Management Commission.

  • Volunteer support for the residents of the house, with training funded by the United Way of the Lower Mainland and The Baxter International Foundation.

  • Other community support for the many aspects of building and maintaining a home have come from groups including The White Rock Chapter of Soroptimists International and the White Rock Lioness Club as well as a number of individual donors.

    To further support its projects, Atira has also created a for-profit organization, ATIRA Property Management Inc., with "a novel and noble goal: to offer excellent service to the community while reducing reliance on government funding." The success of ATIRA Property Management Inc. will improve the long-term sustainability of the Society since profits will support the Atira Women's Resource Society's not-for-profit activities.

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