UPDATE: On December 5, 2018, the Municipality of North Cowichan approved the temporary use permit for the shelter to begin operating this month. See details here.
Despite the urgent need for an overnight shelter for women in the Cowichan region, a permit for an emergency winter shelter was denied by the City of Duncan after a public hearing in October. But on November 21, the North Cowichan municipal council voted unanimously that the proposed emergency shelter in North Cowichan move forward to a public hearing.
The proposed shelter, which still needs to pass a public hearing on December 5, will fill a much-needed gap in service for women and provide a safe space during the cold winter months. The shelter would also offer consistency and daily predictability, which is essential in stabilizing those who come off the street, and enable access to support services and permanent housing.
The need for a women’s shelter was identified this year after reviewing the data from two Point-in-Time homeless counts, information collected from the local Warmland House shelter, and consultation undertaken by the Tze Tza Watul Community Advisory Board and the creation of the Cowichan Community Plan Steering Committee.
The point-in-time count from August 2017 identified 28 women and four children as being absolutely homeless. Another 51 women and 19 children were identified as hidden homeless or precariously housed.
Warmland House provides shelter to those experiencing homelessness, however, women are severely under-represented in the shelter, mainly due to concerns for their safety. Warmland House is also often at full capacity during winter nights, so there is need for more shelter beds in the community.
United Way and Cowichan Women Against Violence Society are now working with the Municipality of North Cowichan to identify a location for this winter. Come out to the public hearing on December 5 and show your support. We need your voice!