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Old 06-29-2006, 06:26 AM   #2
Blackbear
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FROM: THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR NEWSPAPER
_http://www.hamiltonspectator.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=hamilton/La
yout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1151445023558&call_pageid=1020420665036&col=1
014656511815_
(http://www.hamiltonspectator.com/NAS...l_pageid=10204
20665036&col=1014656511815)
Native Women's Safe House Sat Empty


Kaz Novak, the Hamilton Spectator
Native Women's Centre executive director Linda Ense says only one family has
used the facility.

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(http://ads.thestar.com/click.ng/site...&HChannel=news) Only one mother used
facility
By Sharon Boase
The Hamilton Spectator
(Jun 28, 2006)
A newly-refurbished transitional house for aboriginal women fleeing domestic
violence has sat almost empty since it opened its doors five months ago.
Despite a 2002 social planning report on homelessness forecasting a dire
need for such housing, only one mother and her children have stayed in the
facility to date and just for a couple of months.
The Native Women's Centre executive director Linda Ense says if more
aboriginal women and their children don't come forward soon, they will consider
opening the doors to non-aboriginals.
"It's something I would have to take to my board of directors but I think
it's something we have to consider," says Ense.
"At the Native Women's Centre shelter, we service more than aboriginal
families. If the need is out there, then of course, we're not going to turn our
backs and say, 'No.'"
The Native Women's Centre opened two transitional housing units in January,
one with three beds, the other with six.
The $167,000 refurbishment of their old shelter, funded by Canada Mortgage
and Housing Corporation, added some much-needed transitional housing to an
already tight supply.
"There is a real need for transitional housing for women," said Lenore
Lukasik-Foss, chair of the Women Abuse Working Group. "I'm quite shocked to hear
that it hasn't been used."
Transitional housing provides women with a safe haven after escaping abusive
relationships and before they establish themselves in a home of their own.
Alan Whittle, of Good Shepherd Centre, says there is a very serious need for
transitional housing in the community.
"I'm guessing it's people not knowing about it," he says.
Last week, Native Women's Centre hosted an open house for agencies that work
with abused women, sending invitations as far afield as Mississauga and
Niagara Falls.
"It's a gorgeous home, completely beautiful, and it really speaks of
healing," says Clare Freeman, executive director of Hamilton's Interval House, one
of those who attended the open house.
Only about 15 per cent of women hurt by spousal abuse will go to a shelter
or seek out the help of social services, Freeman says. As well, many in the
community were confused when Family Services -- Hamilton's transitional housing
-- closed, thinking that other transitional housing in town had also closed.
"This is a first as an aboriginal service and lots of women may not know
about it," Freeman adds. "I bet city housing doesn't know."
"It's a very unusual scenario," says Kristene Viljasoo, executive director
of Martha House. "There's not a lot at this point in terms of supportive
housing with Family Services closing."
In addition to housing, families staying in the new units would have access
to counselling, help with parenting and budgeting skills, plus help finding
permanent housing. As well, a female elder would offer spiritual assistance.
Candidates need not be status aboriginals, she adds. They and/or their
children may be of aboriginal descent.
Women and their children can stay up to one year in the transitional
housing, possibly longer.
"I know it's needed in our community, I think we just need to get the word
out there," Ense says.
_sboase@thespec.com_ (mailto:sboase@thespec.com) 905-526-2452
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