Scarlett Murphy

Scarlett Murphy

Rosalie’s Village a ‘hand up’ for single moms

Mary's Place supports tenant moms with free childcare and soon opens 15 spaces to the public

The tenants are in and the new $12 million Rosalie’s Village affordable housing development in Royal Oak is the latest project to come online in the face of B.C.’s ongoing housing crunch.

Rosalie’s Village is a 42-unit project by St. Vincent de Paul dedicated to a mix of single mothers and vulnerable women. The funding comes from all layers of government, with $3.9 million from B.C. Housing, $630,000 from the CRD Housing Trust Fund, $297,000 from City of Victoria, $172,262 from Saanich [plus a series of municipal tax exemptions], $1.6 million through St. Vincent de Paul’s own fundraising and $1.3 million worth of land, and $400,000 from the federal government.

Single parent Romy Murphy moved in with three-year-old daughter Scarlett on Jan. 6 and the transition has been incredible, Murphy said.

As a nursing assistant who works on call, Murphy can drop Scarlett off during shifts or in between, when she needs a break to rest. It’s the type of support that would have cost of money before she moved in.

“We are so grateful, it’s unbelievable,” Murphy said. “I was paying $1,500 for a [failing] place on Glasgow that’s since been ripped down.”

Rosalie’s has a community garden around back which Scarlett is already excited about planting in.

“She wants to plant kale, strawberries and corn,” Murphy said. “And she loves the daycare.”

From the start, the supportive daycare was a must have in the minds of Angela Hudson, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul on Vancouver Island and past president Mary Spencer.

“It was Spencer who was adamant we could make the daycare happen,” Hudson said. “She’s a big part of why we called it Mary’s Place.”

The new Mary’s Place daycare has 37 spots with about 15 spots for three to five year olds soon to be open to the public, and in the middle of a childcare crunch.

Hudson said it’s been a smooth transition for such major project, though it’s been a lot for the staff and board to handle in such a short time.

The model at Rosalie’s is what Hudson calls a “hand up,” to help moms stabilize their life and create a family-supporting career.

“[Hearing from the mothers] it inspires you even if we can touch half the people in the building, and I think we’re touching far more than that,” Hudson said. “Just the idea that we can make a difference. And seeing the kids in the childcare program changes everything, we have kids on site now, and that’s fun.”

Rosalie’s includes a community kitchen and access for tenants to on-site support, such as employment and life-skills training. Mothers at Rosalie’s have up to five years to move into the next phase of housing in their life.

Counselling and support is available to the mothers to develop and execute their longterm plans.

The idea of integrating vulnerable women at-risk of homelessness with young, single mothers is a model that has had success before, said Rich Coleman, minister of housing.

“We’re stepping into a situation where we won’t necessarily see who benefits from this but one of the children who comes out of here will be a doctor, one will be an accountant, or [God forbid] a politician,” Coleman joked.

Moving forward Rosalie’s Village will not receive provincial funding and will operate sustainably though St. Vincent de Paul donations, meaning Hudson’s annual budget is now much higher.

“We are starting to earmark other properties for development but nothing will be [started] quite yet,” Hudson said.