‘It’s just really hard’: Cowichan homeless shelter is priced out of real estate market and may close

'It's just really hard': Cowichan homeless shelter is priced out of real estate market and may close

61-year-old Sue said she never imagined she would be homeless and needing a Cowichan women’s shelter to survive.

“Never ever, if somebody gave me a crystal ball like three years ago, ‘can you see yourself homeless?’ Oh no,” said Cowichan Women Against Violence shelter resident Sue, who asked CHEK News not to share her last name.

The former Victoria resident owned her own condo before the pandemic hit, but is now one of 12 women calling Charlotte’s Place, run by the CWAV, home, after being unable to afford rental prices in the increasingly expensive market.

“Definitely there’s a lot more than people would like to believe, and not just women, children,” said Sue.

“I think the frustration too is we’re just climbing up a sandhill. The need is growing,” said Adria Borghesan, Charlotte’s Place program supervisor.

Now the very shelter housing vulnerable women is finding itself priced out of the market, according to CWAV’s Borghesan.

“Yeah and its the same problem a lot of families are facing in this area. It’s like we’ve got a chunk of money and listings are just over and above every single time, being beat out, so yeah it’s just really hard with the budgets we have,” said Borghesan.

CWAV raised $600,000 to find a permanent home for the low barrier shelter, but now has only three weeks left to purchase one or will lose more than half of that funding, under the conditions of the donation.

Months of searching and making offers, have so far failed. So the shelter has made an unusual appeal to any homeowner planning to sell and wanting to help this community’s vulnerable women at the same time.

“More and more people are on the streets and it’s such a different community than we’ve ever seen before. Like we are talking about elderly women which are most of our clients right now who are out of a home for the first time,” said Borghesan.

Sue said that she’s worried what will happen to her and the other shelter residents.

“I just don’t know what the future holds for a lot of people,” she said.

As the lack of affordable housing hits Cowichan’s homeless women, in a whole new way.  One that there is no safety net set up for.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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