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Updated: 7th January 2019 06:58

YWCA housing homeless women at Ophelia

The YWCA unveiled an apartment building on Wednesday that has been redeveloped as affordable units for homeless women.

The YWCA unveiled an apartment building on Wednesday that has been redeveloped as affordable units for homeless women.

The Ophelia, which is located in lower Mount Royal in southwest Calgary, has 15 bachelor and one-bedroom suites that are being made available to YWCA clients for about $350 per month.

In partnership with the Calgary Homeless Foundation and First Calgary Financial, the YWCA is providing homeless women with affordable units at The Ophelia. (CBC)Partnering with the YWCA, the Calgary Homeless Foundation purchased the building in 2010 for $2.27 million, using a $1.59 million grant from the city.

First Calgary Financial provided an interest-free line of credit for the rest of purchase price, which a private donor paid off earlier this month, officials said.

Eighty per cent of the units are reserved for women who are transitioning out of the YWCA's Mary Dover House program. The rest will be made available to other agencies that help homeless women, officials said.

For resident Collette Smithers, living at the Ophelia brings an end to years of feeling ashamed. A divorce left left her in financial ruin, and with no stable home.

The Ophelia is an apartment building in southwest Calgary that provides homeless single women with a place to live for about $350 per month. (CBC)"I asked the question a thousand times. How do I get out of this? And there was never an answer," Smithers said.

Susan Scott, who examines homelessness among women in Canada, said the problem isn't well enough understood.

"We don't know how many homeless women there are in this country. The women you see on the streets, that are obviously homeless, are just the tip of the iceberg."

The Ophelia is one of the few programs in Calgary that provides housing and support exclusively for single homeless women, said YWCA CEO Sue Tomney.

"It's another way the YWCA is expanding its continuum of services in line with the 10-year plan to end homelessness in Calgary," she said.

 

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