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More housing needed for women leaving Serenity Place: report

Odyssey House is narrowing its focus on its next steps after releasing a three-year report on its second phase women’s shelter, Serenity Place.

The longer-term safe residence support service for victims of domestic violence housed 25 women and 27 children in 2018. However, one of the major challenges faced by the organization is finding secure and affordable housing for residents when they leave the shelter.

“We actually hired a practicum student to support us over the summer in really trying to understand the barriers to moving out back into the community, like being able to look at affordable housing, or perhaps the lack thereof,” says Director of Communications Makayla Marcotte.

Marcotte says those who can directly help the most in potentially breaking down those barriers are already well versed in what challenges lay ahead.

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“We recently had our Evening of Empowerment, and we were lucky enough to have three [Grande Prairie city] councillors in the room at the time. I think they’re very aware of this challenge we are facing, and this report is just another way to look at the next steps as community members.”

To help raise awareness of the problems faced by those in Grande Prairie, the Odyssey House public education department held over 50 more presentations to the community in 2018 than in 2017, with an increase of more than 2,000 attendees overall. Marcotte adds they can only anecdotally look at the results of the push for education on the matter, but she feels they’re heading in the right direction.

“Correlation doesn’t always equal causation, but I think that by creating more awareness and conversation around these topics you’re destigmatizing them, and that makes it a safer place for people to come forward and have the conversations that they perhaps wouldn’t have had if they didn’t have that baseline education and awareness.”

The full three-year report has also been made available to the public.

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