A brand new 42-unit affordable housing development in Saanich will provide a “hand up” for single mothers with young children and vulnerable women aged 40 to 55.
The housing project known as Rosalie’s Village was officially introduced last week at the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul of Vancouver Island’s Frederic Ozanam Centre, 4349 West Saanich Rd., where Glanford meets West Saanich. Beside it, construction is well underway for Rosalie’s Village, which will become its own address, 4351 West Saanich Rd., when it opens in September 2016.
“This provides a part of the [housing] continuum that doesn’t exist, where [women] can come from a transition home, thereby freeing up a [very important] spot in a transition home,” said Angela Hudson, executive director of Saint Vincent de Paul of Vancouver Island.
“This is a place for single mothers to stay [up to five years] and get a hand up in independence, as long as they are working on a plan to independence.”
All levels of government kicked in for Rosalie’s Village, with almost $14 million already announced and a remaining sum expected, likely from the federal government. Saanich contributed $172,262, the Capital Regional District board $630,000 through the Regional Housing Trust Fund, and the province $10 million. St. Vincent de Paul donated the land, worth about $1.3 million, and has committed to raising $1.6 million in donations.
“We wanted to develop the land for the highest and best use needed,” Hudson said.
Rosalie’s will offer 18 two-bedroom units at a targeted rental rate of about $570 a month, all dedicated to single mothers with up to two young children. Eight of the two-bedroom units will be townhomes and the other 10 will be apartments.
Twenty one-bedroom suites will be allocated to women aged 40 to 55 who currently live in over-housed subsidized family housing (see story page A14), for a cost of about $375 per month.
Unique to the design is the integration of all units on the same floor to promote community and invite a connection between the mothers and the other women there.
Rosalie’s also includes a daycare unit for children of residents as well as support services such as the house mother (on site 24/7) and a full-time case manager. The latter will work with all adult residents on a long-term plan. Mothers with children may stay up to five years.
“People are ready to start the next phase and we’re ready to help them.
“It’s not about people fitting a mould, it’s about fitting what they need and this is a practical way to support that baby,” Hudson said. “When they’re ready, we’ll help them transition to market rent housing or if it’s not working for them, we’ll help them get into the appropriate housing, such as CRD or Pacifica.”
The idea for Rosalie’s started seven years ago with the Saint Vincent de Paul of Vancouver Island board of directors.
Despite having most of the foundation laid, it wasn’t announced to the public until last week for a few reasons, one of them to gather a blessing of local First Nations representatives, something that was important to Hudson.
“When you walk on this property there is a heart, there is a feeling here,” she said.
Victoria Coun. Charlayne-Thronton Joe attended the opening and was a member of the CRD Regional Housing Trust Fund when it supported the project in the previous municipal term.
“This is much needed, it will be a safe place to live for low-income people in our city,” she said.
Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell spoke to the importance of St. Vincent de Paul’s goal of making Rosalie’s free of subsidy in the future.
“We should thank them for their management of this project in the years ahead,” he said.
Hudson said the project initially stalled as some couldn’t see daycare as a viable part of Rosalie’s operations. It took past-president Mary Spencer, a housing advocate, to get the project going ahead with the daycare included.
St. Vincent de Paul of Vancouver Island continues to seek donors for the remaining $500,000 portion of its fundraising.