domestic violence

Defining Homelessness in the Face of Domestic Abuse

The Alberta Council of Women's Shelters (ACWS), together with 16 of its members (including Rowan House), have published a report on second-stage shelters. It includes recommendations that government can implement to address homelessness related to domestic abuse. Below is a media release from ACWS explaining the importance of this report.

Media Release
August 30, 2017

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Report: Invest in women’s shelters to solve women’s homelessness

EDMONTON, AB–The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters together with sixteen of their members have published a report: A Safe Path Home, based on their collaborative work over the last two years. The report highlights the work of second-stage women’s shelters in Alberta and provides practical recommendations that government can implement to support women and children who have become homeless due to domestic abuse.

Jan Reimer, ACWS Executive Director, says current definitions of homelessness need to change: “When women flee violence at home, they are homeless. These women may not fit into traditional understandings of homelessness, but when the choice they face is between violence at home, the risk of violence on the streets or in homeless shelters, plus the risk of losing their children to foster care or to their abuser – it is clear their need is acute.” 

Reimer said she would like to see Alberta housing services follow the example of other provinces that give special priority to victims of domestic violence. British Columbia, for example, has a priority placement housing program for women fleeing violence — and second-stage women’s shelters are built into their housing strategy. 

“The fact is, current affordable housing and homeless shelters are not always tailored to support women and children fleeing violence,” Reimer said. “Second-stage women’s shelters are the only long-term housing supports that offer their expertise in creating safety from domestic abusers, trauma and violence informed care, wrap-around supports and specialized children’s programming.”

Provincial funding announced in 2015 allowed second-stage women’s shelters to significantly strengthen their service offerings (all but two shelters previously operated without any government funding at all). Shelters were able to develop new programs, increase the scope of outreach services, hire child trauma counsellors and expand child-focused services. Ongoing investment will be needed to sustain these changes. 

Second-stage shelters can boast some strong outcomes based on recent data. At the end of their stay in shelter, 87% of women were able to achieve progress towards their goals and over 80% were satisfied with services they received. While a staggering 67% of women were homeless upon entering shelter, only 9% were moving into unstable housing/homelessness upon exiting. More than half of women (55%) were moving into stable housing at the end of their stay.

[BC Housing Priority Placement Program:]


Read the report: A Safe Path Home

Community Host Homes Recruitment

Each year, Rowan House Society provides crisis emergency services to over 200 women with children fleeing domestic violence.  These women live in our communities - Okotoks, High River, Black Diamond, Turner Valley, Claresholm and all surrounding areas.  All too often, these women and children return to the abusive home when they leave the emergency shelter because there is nowhere else for them to go.

Rowan House is developing a new program, called Community Host Homes, to address this problem.  The program involves community members opening their homes to women and children leaving domestic abuse, providing them with a safe and stable place to reside as they transition to independent and violence free lives in the community.

This program is being developed to be flexible while ensuring the needs of both the hosts and hosted families are met.  Training will be provided to the host homes, families will be matched according to specific needs and, both the host and hosted families will be supported by Rowan House staff.

Rowan House needs your help to make this program a success.

If you would like to learn more about this opportunity to serve people in your community, please contact Brigitte Baradoy at 403.850.0585 or

Birdies for Kids presented by AltaLink

Event Date: August 30th – September 3rd, 2017

Rowan House Emergency Shelter is thrilled to announce we have once again been selected as a participating charity in Birdies for Kids presented by AltaLink.

Why are we so excited about this, you ask? Well, Birdies for Kids is a non-profit program run under the Shaw Charity Classic Foundation. Rowan House will receive 100% of every donation directed through this program and all donations are matched up to 50% - stretching your support even further!

The program runs now through the end of the Shaw Charity Classic, Sunday, September 3, 2017 at 11:59:59pm MT. If you were considering making a donation, here’s an opportunity to increase your impact. Funds raised through Birdies for Kids are directed to our Branches Preventative Education Program

Help break the cycle of violence.

Donate online or fill out the PDF Pledge Card and email it to: