‘Game changer’: Final push to build affordable housing development on the Sunshine Coast

Click to play video: 'Campaign aims to break cycle of violence with affordable housing project on Sunshine Coast'
Campaign aims to break cycle of violence with affordable housing project on Sunshine Coast
WATCH: Women on the Sunshine Coast are fundraising for a proposed housing project for Sechelt. It would have four floors of affordable housing. Angela Jung reports on how it all comes down to community – May 24, 2024

A non-profit organization that has helped countless Sunshine Coast residents for more than 50 years, is looking to fill the growing need of the community in a new home.

The Sunshine Coast Community Services Society (SCCSS) offers a range of programming and services that are bursting at the seams.

“A number of our programs are oversubscribed,” said Catherine Leach, executive director of the SCCSS.

“When we look across the board, the key reasons that people are accessing our services are: poverty, food security, affordable housing, and gender-based violence — and that’s across all our programs. We’ve never really seen that before.”

To address the concerns, the non-profit has been working on the $34 million Building Together project, which will offer 35 units of affordable rentals to vulnerable women and children and will boast of programming on the lower two floors.

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“Not just a community hub where you can access services, but a place where you come to dialog to connect, to build relationships and to access the services that you need. It’s unique to the Sunshine Coast; it is a game changer for this community,” Leach said.

Click to play video: 'Ten B.C. homes being moved instead of demolished'
Ten B.C. homes being moved instead of demolished

‘A home in which you feel safe’

Jennifer faced abuse from her ex-husband for more than a decade before she sought help from SCCSS.

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Global News has changed her name because she is a survivor of domestic violence.

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“I took out a life insurance policy and I did my will… because I did not expect to survive,” she told Global News. “The pivotal moment was: he brought out one of his nine guns and said he was going to solve the problem, our marital problem. And my seven-year-old son at the time, basically pounded on him and said, ‘Leave my mummy alone.’ And my son saved my life that day.”

Jennifer accessed SCCSS’s victim services, which provided her with a panic button that was programmed to immediately call the non-profit. The organization also provided her children counselling.

She said she has not only survived the abuse, but she is now thriving and is throwing her support behind the Building Together project.

“There’s all the financial constraints that keep you trapped. And that’s why I love what Community Services is doing; building these homes for women fleeing domestic violence is going to help so many women not be trapped,” she said. “Breaking the cycle of violence, you have to have a home in which you feel safe in.”

50 Women campaign

A group of local women from all walks of life is banding together in support of the project and spreading awareness.

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The non-profit has now secured more than 90 per cent of the funding, and the 50 women are helping to fundraise another $1.5 million.

“Everybody coming together for us, you know, a cause that we believe in. And women helping women is always such a wonderful way to link arms and show support for each other,” said Nicole Arnett, a local realtor. “Almost everybody in the community uses a service at some point from this organization, so, it’s a great way to give back.”

The SCCSS is hoping to receive final approval from BC Housing by the end of summer, allowing it to demolish the former building and begin constructing the new one in September.

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