Women’s House gets funding boost for second-stage housing project

Kincardine build to start next month

By Kristen Shane


The provincial government is giving the Women’s House Serving Bruce and Grey a funding boost so that it can build mortgage-free apartment complexes in Kincardine, Port Elgin and Wiarton.


Huron-Bruce MPP Carol Mitchell dropped by the site of the proposed new build in Kincardine last Wednesday to announce that the government is giving the Women’s House $1,082,200 over two years to help build transitional housing for women and children recovering from abuse.


The Women’s House has an emergency shelter with 13 spaces, beside its main office next to the hospital in Kincardine. Abused women and children typically stay there for up to 10 weeks. With the new second-stage housing, they will be able to stay in more private apartment-style units for up to a year while paying monthly rent geared to income.


It’s a huge step for a woman to reset her life after coming out of an abusive situation, said Mitchell. “The second-stage housing gives (her) the ability to transition more.”


Women in the second-stage housing will have ongoing access to counselling services, said Women’s House executive director Casey Weichert.


“It can sometimes take many years or even a lifetime to overcome the effects of abuse,” she said. “We believe that safety and stability is a start to success.”


Weichert showed Mitchell the snow-covered field where the one-storey four-unit complex will go to the east of the existing shelter. It will include a one-bedroom, three-bedroom and two two-bedroom apartments, with kitchen and laundry space.


Casey Weichert, left, executive director of the Women’s House Serving Bruce and Grey, stands with Huron-Bruce MPP Carol Mitchell and Pauline Witzke, chair of the second-stage housing committee, at the site of the proposed new Kincardine housing complex, to be completed this summer. (Kristen Shane photo)


Kincardine council passed a bylaw the same day as last week’s funding announcement to approve a site plan agreement for the new build, one of the final pre-construction stages.


The first shovels should hit the ground in March, said Pauline Witzke, the chair of a committee of community volunteers and Women’s House staff steering the second-stage housing project. Construction should be finished in five months, by late summer, she said.


The Women’s House has already built another four-unit complex in Port Elgin, which has been fully occupied since November. Another three-unit complex in Wiarton has been held up by an Ontario Municipal Board challenge, but is otherwise set for construction, said Witzke.


The first-built Port Elgin house was fully financed without a mortgage. The Women’s House had received $660,000 through provincial and federal government affordable housing grants, $400,000 from Bruce Power and thousands more from community groups. But it hadn’t yet been able to fundraise the $900,000 needed to build each of the other two complexes without taking out mortgages.


“Along comes this wonderful amount of funding,” said Witzke. “We are mortgage free now, which is amazing.”


The proposed design of the second-stage housing complex to be built east of the Women’s House shelter in Kincardine. (Kristen Shane photo)


Mitchell also announced the government would give an extra $124,000 to the Women’s House to maintain and repair its existing buildings. Weichert said staff plan to buy two new accessible bathtubs for their Kincardine shelter, replace some windows and a security fence, fix electrical and plumbing problems and drainage issues that, like the nearby medical clinic, have caused water to seep into the building’s basement.


Mitchell said the extra money is needed because social service agencies often can find grants to cover capital costs, but not operating costs.


The Kincardine shelter is more than 100 years old, said Weichert. It used to be a nurses’ residence, doctors’ office and the home of the hospital’s chief administrator before it became a shelter.

“It’s grown and grown, with little bits and pieces added on.”


Maybe one day, violence against women will stop, she said. “Until that day comes, we appreciate ongoing financial support.”

This is just great, I am glad

This is just great, I am glad that someone thought about this and offered them the solution they needed. Apparently that someone is the Government itself, let's hope many more examples will follow after this one.
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