Recent shelter opening shows increase of female users
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
There has been an influx of women utilizing a recently-opened shelter at 3030 Gordon Avenue in Coquitlam.
Whereas Coquitlam’s shelters have mainly been used by men in the past, the ratio of men and women using the shelter has nearly reached parity.
The shelter on Gordon Avenue—which opened its doors last December—has proved a popular choice both for Coquitlam’s at-risk women and overall, as the shelter provides meals, counselling services, and security through several security cameras and private dorms that can be locked. Those needing to stay for longer may qualify to live in a transitional, semi-suite housing unit; may be moved into a transition house; or be prepared for permanent housing.
It is suspected that many of these women-in-need have arrived at the shelters as a result of violent and abusive situations. Some of them were asked for statements by Tri-City News, and while they were willing to give a statement, they asked for anonymity due to safety.
Those who have used the shelter have given it glowing reviews. One anonymous woman said to Tri-City News: “The staff and management let you do your own thing, but they keep an eye out.” Another said: “It’s an open door, it’s good.”
Joy’s Place is another shelter in Port-Coquitlam, exclusively for women and their dependent children. They provide housing, as well as counselling and support services for their tenants.
The Gordon Avenue shelter, run by RainCity Housing, has been keeping attendance of those who are regulars at the shelter for safety. A policy of the shelter is to report a regular missing should they not appear for three days. While it is important to ensure that all of Coquitlam’s at-risk population is safe, there have been extra efforts to prioritize the safety of women in the community.
RainCity Housing provides shelters and services for women all throughout the Lower Mainland. They operate The Vivian and The Budzey, both of which are women’s shelters in Vancouver. The organization also provides shelters for at-risk LGBTQ2S persons and for minorities.
RainCity Housing hopes to carry on the goals of the now-defunct BC’s Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, which was established in 2010 to bring closure to the dozens of missing and murdered women from the Downtown Eastside, of which anywhere from 6–49 were murdered by Robert Pickton. The commission was closed in August 2013.
Prior to their closing, the Commission outlined several ways that Lower Mainland communities could keep at-risk women safe. For example, the commission suggested liaisons and protective actions for Aboriginal women and women involved in the sex trade, as well as more community service from the local authorities.