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Shelter Construction Signals Hope for Victims of Violence

NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario, August 17, 2005 — Women and their children who are fleeing family violence will soon have a brand new shelter to seek safety and assistance. The foundation was poured this week marking the start of construction of Nova House.

Operating under the umbrella of the Women's Place of South Niagara Inc., the shelter will offer 20 emergency beds for women and their children. The facility was made possible with funding of $2.2 million from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)'s Shelter Enhancement Program (SEP).

"The start of construction on this new shelter to create Nova House is so vitally important to ensuring women and their children have access to safe housing and the support they need to help them succeed," said Walt Lastewka, Member of Parliament for St. Catharines, on behalf of the Honourable Joe Fontana, Minister of Labour and Housing. "This project is a visible sign of the Government of Canada's ongoing commitment to supporting those who are most in need in Niagara Falls and the surrounding area."

Additional funds for construction of the $3.7 million project came from the very successful capital campaign held by Nova House, which raised more than $1.2 million, and from Women's Place of South Niagara which contributed $317,000 in funding.

"The Board of Directors of Women's Place of South Niagara is pleased with CMHC's commitment to the Nova House Building Campaign," said Bob Muir, President Board of Directors of Women's Place of South Niagara Inc. "Their investment in our project ensures there will be a safe environment for Women and Children in crisis in Niagara Falls and Fort Erie."

"It is truly wonderful that the community has been so responsive to our capital campaign and $1.2 million dollars has been raised. Now through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's Shelter Enhancement Program, the additional $2.2 million dollars needed to construct a new women's shelter in Niagara Falls has been made available," said Ruthann Brown, Executive Director, Women's Place of South Niagara Inc. "The new shelter will enable us to double our capacity and provide appropriate service delivery, space and amenities."

Women's Place of South Niagara Inc. strives to empower abused women and their children by providing safe shelter and intervention services, and has been providing quality shelter services for nearly 50 years between two shelters: Welland Centre and Nova House in Niagara Falls. Until construction is completed at the new location, women and their children requiring assistance can still go to the old location in Niagara Falls, which currently has 12 beds. The Welland shelter has 10 beds. These shelters are the only safe havens for abused women and children in the Niagara Falls, Fort Erie, Ridgeway, Welland, Port Colborne, Wainfleet and Pelham areas.

"Making this announcement is bittersweet as it is our true desire that our services would be required less and not more," added Ms Brown. "However, the reality is that hundreds of women and children who have been victims of abuse call our crisis line, require emergency shelter, intervention and transitional support services each year. Having this new shelter will enable us to address these needs, as well as improve the quality of the programs and support we provide."

CMHC's Shelter Enhancement Program offers financial assistance for the repair, rehabilitation and improvement of existing shelters for women and their children, youth and men who are victims of family violence. Funding is also available for the acquisition or construction of new shelters and second stage housing.

CMHC is Canada's national housing agency with a mandate to help Canadians gain access to safe, quality and affordable housing. CMHC supports the Canadian housing industry and improves the living conditions of Canadians through its activities in mortgage loan insurance and securitization, assisted housing, research and information transfer and the promotion of Canadian housing exports.

For further information, please contact:

Tamara Coleman-Lawrie
Development Officer
Women's Place of South Niagara Inc.

Kathie Howes
Communications Consultant
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation