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A place to land, then back to abuse? Vancouver Island woman flags housing gap

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If you’re experiencing domestic abuse, Victim Link BC is available 24/7. Please call or text 1-800-563-0808 or email VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca. Additionally, the Vancouver Island Crisis Line can point you to the right supports for your region. Call 1-888-494-3888.

A Vancouver Island woman has managed to get out of an abusive home, but fears she’ll soon be right back where she started.

Julie, a pseudonym CTV News is using to protect her identity, said she’s been calling housing providers for months. She gets the same answer every time: There’s no space available.

The single mother said she lucked out last week, when a loved-one introduced her to a housing support worker they happened to know.

“I find it really strange that I’ve been calling all the time trying to get a spot for months and can’t because I'm told there are waitlists, and (the support worker) makes one phone call and I’m able to get in,” Julie said.

She and her son moved into a transition house on March 10.

“He keeps asking me, ‘Are we going to go and get a house, you and me, mommy?’” she said.

Stays at the transition house are limited to 30 days, so Julie said she fears they’ll have nowhere to go once the time is up.

“It’s an unsettling feeling not knowing where you’re going to be in 30 days,” she said.

B.C.’s Housing Ministry said transition homes can grant extensions, especially given the ongoing housing crisis.

“When someone makes the courageous decision to leave a violent relationship, they need housing available right away,” a statement from the ministry reads.

“For too many people, we know that isn’t the case right now, given the pressures of the housing crisis and tragic increase in gender-based violence coming out of the pandemic.”

'FIND A YES PERSON'

The province has a 10-year, $734-million plan to build 1,500 housing spaces for women and children fleeing violence. In the meantime, Julie said people are trapped in dangerous situations.

She’s calling for greater financial support for survivors, who may have been financially drained by abusive partners. Julie set up a GoFundMe campaign with the hope of raising enough money to land a rental home. 

“It makes me sad there isn’t that help for women and it's discouraging … to keep on trying every day,” she said.

Still, Julie is encouraging others to do exactly that.

“If you’re talking to someone and they say no to you, you’re just talking to the wrong person,” she said. “You need to find a yes person.” 

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