Homeless women in P.E.I. often have nowhere to sleep, but a group in Charlottetown is hoping to change that.
Liz Corney is one of the founders of Blooming House, which is working toward opening a women’s homeless shelter in Charlottetown.
Corney said opening a shelter is acknowledging vulnerable women and trying to meet a need everyone knows exists.
“I don’t think we can shut a blind eye to it any more,” she said.
The lack of a homeless shelter for women has been an ongoing issue since 2012 when Grandmother House in Charlottetown closed its doors.
P.E.I. Family Violence Prevention Services operates Anderson House, but it is meant to be an emergency shelter for women and children in need of safety because of violence in their lives.
Chief Mary Bernard Memorial Women’s Shelter also provides emergency housing to women and children and to women who are homeless, but it is in Lennox Island.
The Salvation Army runs the Bedford MacDonald House homeless shelter in Charlottetown, but only men are allowed to stay there.
It gets about $49,000 in annual funding from the province.
Corney said the people involved with Blooming House have been working on the project since the end of January and have a small board in place as it gets ready to apply for non-profit status.
She has met with the provincial and federal governments about funding.
The group has what Corney described as an “aggressive and a little ambitious timeline” of opening in February or March of 2019.
“We don’t have a property yet so we’ve got to secure some of that and funding and everything like that in order to make it happen,” she said.
The group hasn’t started looking for a building yet, but Corney said it is thinking of a facility that would be open 12 hours a day in the downtown core, have eight beds and be inclusive with no set criteria, such as limiting how long women could stay there.
“What we envision is something that is inclusive, that basically fills the need of the community and gives women a reason to want to possibly get out of a vulnerable situation as well.”
That would involve helping women connect with support services, but Corney said the immediate need is having somewhere for a homeless person to sleep.
“We obviously want to go beyond that. We want to be able to be kind of a hub for these women and meet them in their need,” she said.
The call for a women’s homeless shelter made its way to the legislature Thursday where Green MLA Hannah Bell started debate of a motion calling for the government to give funding for it.
In an interview with The Guardian, Bell said opening a homeless shelter without any support is tough, especially knowing there is support for a men’s shelter.
“It's a matter of being fair and recognizing a need that’s not being met,” she said.
Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy said Blooming House and a second group approached the government about opening a women’s homeless shelter so she suggested they collaborate.
Mundy wouldn’t identify the second group and Corney said she didn’t who it was.
As for how much money the shelter could get, Mundy didn’t commit to a funding amount and said the government doesn’t know how much the groups will ask for.
“I think we’re a little bit premature, but I can tell you we’re excited.”