North East Outreach and Support Services held the grad opening of the Second-stage housing on April 26th in Melfort. There are four suites in the facility – the two larger suites can each house a woman and eight children, and the two smaller ones can house a woman and up to three children. This will give domestic violence survivors a place to stay for a longer period of time after they’ve spent the maximum amount of time at the emergency shelter.
The main emergency shelter allows women and their families to stay for up to six weeks. The second stage shelter – built right beside it – will give those that need a place to stay up to 12 months.
Louise Schweitzer, North East Outreach’s Executive Director, said the second stage shelter gives the women a chance to stabilize and make a plan to provide for her family without the having the whole responsibility of finding housing, furniture, a job for herself and schooling for her children. She said this facility allows the women time to heal, grow, build their own support networks and become financially stable.
Before this facility, NEOSS worked closely with the women and local housing authorities to secure homes as soon as possible. Schweitzer said the Melfort Housing Authority was often full.
“This will impact the whole of the north east. We serve the whole north east community of Saskatchewan and we call it our community,” Schweitzer said. “What it does is it provides four suites for hard-to-house families.”
Women from their shelters can apply to live in the suites, if there is room. The cost of rent is similar to rates charged for social housing.
Fundraising for the facility started with the shelter in 2014. The provincial and federal government jointly contributed $670,000 to the project in the last five years. Money was also received for this project from the Affinity Credit Union and NEOSS’ House of Hope Capital Campaign, which ran from 2014 to 2017.
Saskatchewan Union of Nurses funded to furnish the 4-bedroom suites while Provincial Metis Housing Corporation funded to furnish the 2-bedroom suites.
“This was always part of the vision,” Schweitzer said. “It was part of the strategic plan and vision for that campaign was to build the shelter and continue on to the second stage housing because we knew it was a need.”
Schweitzer and the Director of Operations for North East Outreach, Ruth Howes, chose the wall hangings for the suites. She said their goal was to give an atmosphere that was positive, and give feelings such as safe, family, home and life.