Haven’s Harbour is a purpose-built facility that will house nine women between the ages of 18 and 29 who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing homelessness

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A supportive housing project for at-risk women is a step closer to crossing the finish line, thanks to a recent $1-million donation facilitated through the Calgary Foundation.

Officials from the Safe Haven Foundation say the anonymous donation puts the non-profit organization within $667,000 of its $2.6-million capital fundraising target to complete its second housing project — Haven’s Harbour.

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Carolyn Holloway, the foundation’s community engagement officer, said the donation is “huge” for the Haven’s Harbour project, which follows up from the organization’s flagship supportive housing project called Haven’s Way.

“We’re a small organization, so it’s very life-changing for us and the youth we serve,” she said.

Holloway added the donation will enable the charity to pay off a considerable chunk of its mortgage and to move ahead on continued renovations to the new building, which is slated to be fully operational later this year.

Haven’s Harbour is a purpose-built facility that will house nine women between the ages of 18 and 29 who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing homelessness. Located just north of Marda Loop in the neighbourhood of South Calgary, the site will feature a mixture of college dorm-style suites with shared kitchens and one-bedroom apartments.

It will be the Safe Haven Foundation’s second such supportive housing facility, having operated Haven’s Way in the community of Altadore since November 2000. Haven’s Way aims to get young women and girls who do not have child welfare status off the street and replicate a safe family environment as they complete their high school education, learn life skills and receive supports such as trauma counselling.

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To date, more than 100 women have come through Haven’s Way, according to the foundation.

‘A safety net’: Haven’s Harbour to help slightly older clientele

While Haven’s Way caters specifically to girls and women between the ages of 14 and 24, Holloway said Haven’s Harbour intends to be for clientele who are slightly older. The new program will purposefully be less hands-on, with an emphasis on supporting tenants as they pursue a post-secondary education, obtain jobs and learn to live independently.

“It’s not the final step, but it’s the next step to getting them on their way to becoming independent and being able to complete their post-secondary school,” she said.

Still, the women who call Haven’s Harbour home will receive various supports, including partially subsidized rent (50 per cent below market rates) and access to educational bursaries to complete their post-secondary studies. Other supports include assistance with writing resumes or preparing for job interviews.

Holloway said Haven’s Harbour was designed as the next step for women who have transitioned from the supportive environment of Haven’s Way, but who may not be quite ready for full-fledged independence.

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“What we learned from alumni of that program was that it was too big of a leap for them to leave Haven’s Way, even though for all intents and purposes, they were ready,” she said. “To go right out into the community, pay rent and do everything on their own — some of them felt that was too steep of a (step), so Haven’s Harbour is intended to be that little bit of a safety net for them.”

Funding still needed

While the recent $1-million donation will give Haven’s Harbour a big boost, Holloway noted the organization still requires about $667,000 to complete renovations and pay off the building’s mortgage. In addition to housing, the three-floor facility will include a community hub in the basement, including study spaces, a gym and full kitchen, where tenants will be taught to cook healthy meals.

“We really rely on the generosity of Calgarians, corporations and organizations in the community,” she said. “We don’t get any fee-for-service government funding or funding from the United Way, so every donation makes a huge difference toward reaching our end goal.

“When we built Haven’s Way in 2000, we called it the home that Calgary built, because it was definitely a joint effort to bring it together. We’re hoping to engage the community once again to get Haven’s Harbour over the finish line.”

For more on the project, visit havensharbour.ca

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