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What Are Transition Houses?

What Are Transition Houses?

Transition houses provide temporary shelter for (historically) women** fleeing abuse. They started popping up around the early 1970's as a survivor-led response to Gender-Based Violence and Intimate Partner Violence. The first Transition House in BC, Interval House, opened its doors in 1972.* Opening and maintaining these spaces was, and continues to be, no small feat - after all, creating actual safe havens in the patriarchal landscape is a radical act.

Why do they exist?

Gender-based violence GBV is so insidious that it impacts and informs all aspects of our individual lives and society. In 2018, 44% of Canadian women identified having dealt with some sort of violence from their intimate partners. Indigenous women are 16x more likely than white women to experience GBV. Those who live with additional discrimination barriers, like trans, two-spirit, homeless and under-housed people also experience disproportionate violence.

What do they do?

Transition Houses are physical locations with living space to cook, sleep, and bathe. They provide temporary shelter for women, non-binary folks** and children who are fleeing, or are impacted by, gender-based violence. They may provide services like counselling, outreach, childcare, Income Assistance support and planning support.

How long can people stay?

Generally, Transition Houses have approximately 30-day stays, with the intention of finding safe longer term housing during that time. Stays can be longer, or shorter, depending on availability and policy.

What about after?

Transition houses provide a temporary solution for a systemic problem. The intention during transition house stays is firstly, to provide immediate safe housing, and second, to help clients move forward in their lives. The hope and intention is to have clients situated in safe, secure housing and enough financial stability to meet their (And often thier children's') needs. If there are ongoing legal issues, the client will have the requisite protection orders in place, as well as legal counsel.

Many organizations provide services after a clients stay at their Transition House, including outreach, victim services and counselling support.

*My experience with Transition Houses and Anti-Violence work is based in British Columbia, Canada. There are different services available according to your region. If you are looking for help, use your incognito browser or clear your browser history afterward.

**The anti-violence sector is currently exploring and evaluating how to provide services to gender nonconforming folks. This means that service availability is dependent on the mandate of each organization.

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