Domestic violence victims living in rural and remote communities will receive rental supplements under a provincial government plan for tackling the issue.
But whether Prince George will qualify appears in doubt.
According to the plan, released by Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux, victims seeking to move out of abusive relationships are facing a squeeze on affordable housing, "especially in rural northern communities that get an influx of well-paid trades’ people seeking rental accommodation.
"The demand for rentals increase the cost of accommodation, leaving lower income families with children and those fleeing abuse in unsafe or inadequate shelter."
As a result, the ministry will provide rental supplements, but only "in communities where there is limited or no social housing."
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation predicts the city's vacancy rate will decline to 3.2 per cent over the coming year from 3.8 per cent in 2013. CMHC also predicts monthly rent for a one-bedroom home will decline by $6 to $670, while rent for a two-bedroom will rise by $5 to $825.
However, Prince George is also home to the Phoenix Transition House, a 16-bed emergency shelter for women and children. In 2012, more than 420 women and children spent at least one night at the facility.
In 2013, Prince George RCMP opened files on 228 domestic assaults.
Increased funding to cover the transportation costs of survivors and children to get to medical, income assistance and counselling appointments and to court appearances as well as to safety in another community are also included in the plan.
According to a ministry press release, $1.5 million will go to "direct supports to women and children for housing and transportation in rural and remote communities."
Details for the initiatives set out in the three-year plan are still to be worked out.
"The first year of the provincial domestic violence plan is an organizational phase," a ministry official said in an e-mail.
"In the coming months, the Provincial Office of Domestic Violence will be working with community and government partners to plan and work out the specific details of those initiatives, including the strategy to provide rental supplements for victims and survivors who live in rural and remote communities that have housing challenges."
The plan also calls for "development of a framework for domestic violence courts," as well as expanded family legal aid services and, on a test basis, expanded criminal duty counsel.
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