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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy was stumped when asked why Charlottetown has gone seven years without a women’s shelter.
“That’s a good question and one I unfortunately can’t answer,’’ said Mundy.
The provincial cabinet minister said Island community’s usually rise to the occasion when a need is presented.
She is happy that is happening now.
A new community organization called Blooming House is planning to pilot a women’s shelter in the capital city with the doors set to open by the end of January.
The province announced Monday it will provide $60,000 in seed funding through its Housing Action Plan.
“It’s a pilot right now,’’ said Mundy. “So, we are going to learn from it.’’
An emergency shelter pilot program started in late December, run by the province and Family Violence Prevention Services, has been putting homeless Islanders in hotel rooms.
Mundy said what has stood out for her is how most of these individuals need to be put in contact with supports like mental health services and social programs.
She said Blooming House will be filling a void.
“Women in need of emergency shelter in the Charlottetown and surrounding areas will now have a safe and warm option to go this winter,’’ she said.
“Caring community organizations, with government support, play a vital role offering services to women in need of additional support at an urgent moment in their lives. This is one shelter solution among a number of others that we are working on with community partners.’’
Blooming House co-founder Liz Corney thanked the province for its support, noting it simply is not acceptable to allow women to be homeless and forced out on the cold streets.
“We have worked real hard for about a year for the Blooming House concept,’’ she said.
Tavie Ingersol, who has worked in provincial group homes, has been hired as the shelter’s co-ordinator.
Four full-time staff are currently being sought.
The shelter, which will be open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., will be manned by two staff persons during operating hours.
There is room for up to eight women to stay in the shelter each night.
Corney said Blooming House will largely rely on community and government services to get the word out about the first women’s shelter in Charlottetown since Grandmother’s House closed in 2012.
“It will largely be referral,’’ she said. “We will accept drop-ins.’’
Women who are intoxicated or high on drugs may still be allowed to stay in the shelter if they are willing and able to abide by the house rules that have been established to make the facility as safe as possible.
“Safety is definitely the key,’’ said Corney.
Blooming House has rent-free use of the home until the end of April but is pursuing a long-term plan.
“We’re hoping to find out in the next four months what is the need for homeless women… how best we can serve them,’’ said Corney. “It’s very exciting.’’
Corney noted community support for Blooming House has been overwhelming.
Blooming House is looking for donated items including furniture, housewares, linens, clothing, winter apparel and hygiene products. For a full list, visit the Blooming House Facebook page. For those able to donate, fill out this form and someone from the Blooming House team will be in touch.