(Anawim Companions Society)

Developers are marking a big milestone, as a refuge for women at risk of homelessness, fleeing violence or battling health issues breaks ground in Victoria.

Anawim Companions Society says construction is now underway on its Women’s House, which aims to provide safe transitional housing for those who need it most once open.

The facility will feature seven private rooms, each with partial bathrooms, plus a communal kitchen and shared living spaces.

Years in the making, the project comes amid alarming statistics, according to Anawim, as highlighted in the latest Greater Victoria Point-In-Time Homeless Count & Needs Survey.

The survey, released in 2020, reported 487 homeless women in the city, with 243 living in transitional housing, a hotel or someone else’s home.

“There are shelter spaces in Victoria for women, but maybe not a home like ours that also provides individualized one-on-one support, meeting the person where they are at,” said Anawim president Dan Greco.

“We strongly believe that replicating a family atmosphere, while fostering connection, can best help the person regain their confidence to live their best life.”

Inspiration behind the Women’s House stems from Anawim’s Men’s House, which opened in 1991 and has helped countless men over three decades.

Land for the new facility was donated outright, with Aryze Developments assisting the society in property rezoning and permitting.

“Groundbreaking is a big milestone for any project, but this project is especially close to our hearts,” said Aryze’s Luke Mari, noting the company is “honoured” to help Anawim every step of the way.

Along with Aryze, the city’s Housing Reserve Fund and several foundations, construction suppliers, and local churches are helping fund the project.

“Thanks to the generous contributions of our donors and the great support from Mayor (Lisa) Helps, city council, and the City of Victoria staff, we have officially begun construction on this long-needed facility, one where we can help those who want to be helped, one person at a time,” added Greco.

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