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Second stage housing for women and children fleeing violence opens in Courtenay

Women and children fleeing violence in Courtenay will soon be able to move into secondary stage housing, with 40 units near opening.

The housing comes after 18 years of planning, development and funding from the province to see Darry’s Place built. The three-storey modular building will provide second stage housing for women and gender-diverse people leaving violence, including transgender women, two-spirit and non-binary people, along with their children.

Darry’s Place features a mix of one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units along with five that are wheelchair accessible and a secured outdoor children’s play area.

After waiting many years for the building’s development, Comox Valley Transition Society executive director Heather Ney says it’s a very special moment.

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“The need was identified and then eventually the province announced money for women’s second stage housing,” said Ney. “So, I feel really proud and the first time I walked in here, I had tears in my eyes.”

Ney says the spaces will provide between six and 18-months accommodation for people who have started the journey of fleeing violence.

“Often, women who are in immediate danger will flee to Lilli House for safety and this would be a place for them to move on to following that immediate, emergency shelter for safety,” added Ney.

In addition, the transition society will offer supports like life-skills training, crisis counselling and poverty-reduction services. Rental rates will be calculated at 30 per cent of the residents’ income or at the provincial shelter rate.

Funding for the project comes through $17.2 million from the province as part of the Building BC: Women’s Transition Housing Fund, and it will provide an annual subsidy of approximately $575,000. The City of Courtenay waived $20,000 in fees for the project, and Muchalat Construction created the units.

Housing minister Ravi Kahlon adds it’s an example of everyone working together.

“This is a recognition of what can happen when the complete community comes together. Private developer, city council, the not-for-profit,” said Kahlon. “We’re in a housing crisis right now and too often those that are fleeing domestic violence get trapped because they know there’s no options.

“For this to be in the community giving people a safe option for their kids with schools nearby, these are the things we need in communities around the province.”

The home has been named Darry’s Place in honour of a long-time transition society member and its former president. Ney says they have finished staff hiring and people are scheduled to start moving in at the start of May.

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