Last year over 118 women and children had to be turned away from Nelson’s transition house, even though it was able to provide shelter for 169 women and their children. This doesn’t count crisis calls or referrals.
There are occasions when no bed for the women and children trying to leave an abusive or violent relationship can be found in the West Kootenay.
The impacts of trauma can be far-reaching, as violence is a major cause of women’s housing instability and homelessness. Yet, last fall, Nelson had the lowest vacancy rate in the province and there are hardly any three-bedroom affordable rental units available in Nelson. All this makes it difficult for women and children to leave violent situations.
The Nelson Committee on Homelessness wants to draw attention to the issue of safe housing for women in Nelson during Homelessness Action Week this year, Oct. 11 to 17, a week participated in around the province to raise awareness around homelessness issues.
Committee on Homelessness co-chair Phyllis Nash announced Mayor Deb Kozak has agreed to be this year’s honourary chair.
“This year’s theme in Nelson is Safe Housing for Women: From Surviving to Thriving,” Nash said. “Being the 20th anniversary of Nelson’s own Aimee Beaulieu Transition House for women needing safe housing, we thought it would be a timely theme.”
“We want to reach out to women experiencing abuse or violence, raise awareness of the issues facing such women in Nelson, and bring information to the public on the work being done and services available to them,” Kozak said. “This is a theme I can get behind and support,”
“I vividly recall the news reports about Aimee Beaulieu and her children. I was a young mother myself at the time and these deaths shook Nelson to its core. The firefighters who were first on the scene are impacted to this day by this tragedy. Safe housing and communities for women and children are something I believe in deeply and I support the people and groups on the Nelson Committee on Homelessness and the broader community working toward this goal.”
You’re invited to a number of activities around Homelessness Action Week, which officially kicks off with a Thanksgiving dinner hosted by Our Daily Bread at 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 12. (Phone 1-888-761-3301 for information.)
The main event will be a public forum at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 14 at the United Church in Nelson.
Titled after this year’s theme, the evening will feature a short photo voice production entitled Surviving, Not Thriving by local filmmaker Amy Bohigian, insight from women who have lived through the experience of seeking safe housing, information from local service providers on the challenges faced and services offered, and discussion and reflection with those attending.
Bohigian will also make a cameo appearance just before the Civic Theatre’s Thursday night film that week, on Oct. 15.
The United Church is a partner in the public forum event, and is also participating in Homelessness Action Week through its unique calendar and photo exhibit: Nelson: Poverty in Modern Times launched Sunday at the Church.
Participants who had experienced poverty and homelessness were given disposable cameras, asked to take photos of their choosing, and to submit their photos together with some text that expressed their thoughts, feelings and experiences. Proceeds from the sale of this calendar will go directly to benefit people who are poor or homeless.
The Nelson Committee on Homelessness also plans on having an art and education installation of the well-known Clothesline project in Nelson for a brief time that week. Watch for more information, or contact Ann Harvey at 250-352-6011, ext. 19, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.