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Elizabeth Fry housing project to open in January

The Prince George & District Elizabeth Fry Housing Society complex on 14th Avenue is well on its way to completion. The first clients will be able to move in as early as January.

The new Prince George & District Elizabeth Fry Housing Society project is taking shape.

My Sister's Place, located at 2855 14th Avenue next to Studio 2880, will be women-led tenancy that includes a community consisting of transitional housing, second-stage housing and affordable townhouses. It is expected to open in January.

"Amber House, our 24-hour transition house primarily for women and children fleeing abuse, is located elsewhere in the community and it's a very tired building," Shannon Smith, the new executive director of the Prince George Elizabeth Fry Housing Society, said. "So we received the opportunity to have funding to build ourselves a new one. This one is stunningly beautiful."

Those escaping an unsafe environment will first enter into the 18-bed transitional housing unit that is situated on the first floor of the main building at the site.

"Lots of individual rooms, there's meeting rooms, a huge kitchen, nice gathering spaces that will support all of the staff and guests who come into the facility," Smith said. 

After 30 days, women and children may transition to one of the 16 second-stage housing units that sees people stay for about 18 months. Those are located on the second floor of the main building.

"There is also an incredible need for the second stage housing," Smith added. "We're hoping that folks can transition through this community here because there's also 21 townhouses," Smith said. "So there's three components and when you look at housing it's a huge social determinant of health. If we have safe, secure, viable housing we can have healthier, engaged families. So this is what we're hoping to achieve here."

And finally there are 21 townhomes specifically for those in need of low-income, affordable housing. Between 30 to 50 per cent of the facility's housing units will be fully accessible so that mobility issues will not be a barrier for those in the community who are in need of housing.

Within the complex, there will be tenant support workers who will help residents maintain their tenancy, transition through any personal challenges and help achieve goals, Smith added.

Kathi Heim is the outgoing executive director who helped make the project a reality and will continue to manage the project up until the end of the year.

Smith took over the executive director role about a month ago.

"We know that housing across the province and in Prince George is challenging so we're hoping it adds to the ability to have safe and affordable housing in Prince George, which is so important," Smith said. "We know there are other builds going up in Prince George so it's all bringing up that inventory of housing in Prince George. The Elizabeth Fry Housing Society is a very vibrant society and will continue to grow as opportunities come forward and this complex is going to be just beautiful."

There will be community gardens and a state-of-the-art security system that will make it safe for everyone, Smith said.

"The goal is to be a good neighbour so there will be lovely gardens and really nice shrubbery along the fence line and the goal is to be part of the larger community and this community," Smith said. "It's going to be a real gem in the city."

Those wishing to apply for housing within the complex will see applications available in the fall.

For more information, visit the E-Fry website.

The cost of the complex construction is $16 million, which came from the Building B.C.: Women's Transition Fund through which $734 million over 10 years has been earmarked for 1,500 units of this type of housing.

The Prince George Elizabeth Fry Housing Society is a sister and separate agency to the Prince George and District Elizabeth Fry Society.

The housing society currently operates 128 housing units throughout Prince George, 80 of these units are two, 40 unit complexes for lower-income families, persons with disabilities and in special circumstances, senior citizens, 11 units are for women and their children who are leaving unsafe relationships. A 36-unit apartment building provides homes to low to moderate income senior citizens and people living with disabilities.