This week YW celebrated a milestone in the construction of our new home with our long-time service partners from service partners from the Government of Alberta and the City of Calgary. We announced $8.6 million dollars in funding from the provincial and municipal government to support our transitional housing program.
As our project evolves before our eyes, quite literally in this case, we wanted to provide some background on the who, what, how and why we need this new space.
In 1910, four women came together to establish the first YWCA in Calgary that offered safe housing for young women arriving in our city. For the last 107 years, YW Calgary has provided critical programs and services to meet the changing needs of women in our community.
A recent part of our evolution was recognizing that the current downtown facility, built in 1972, was no longer meeting our clients’ needs. The current facility is costly to operate and after the 2013 flood, a significant portion of the building became unusable. This created significant problems for us organizationally in achieving our mission and vision. In order to be relevant and responsive to the ever-evolving needs of women and their families, we needed a new facility that would be as adaptable as our organization.
In 2014, YW Calgary made the strategic decision to leverage our rare land asset and chart a course forward with a new purpose-built YW facility but more importantly, improve opportunities and access for the women and families. The sale of our full downtown city block in 2015, enabled YW to envision a future where women are thriving in a safe and equitable community. The sale of the downtown facility also created a unique opportunity for the organization to be first in on a project that will reshape the non-profit landscape in Calgary.
In undertaking the largest facility development project in YW Calgary’s history, we focused on ensuring the building is grounded in clearly articulated, women-centred design principles which explicitly recognize and address women’s differing priorities and needs. Engaging women on all aspects of the design was critical to YW. We want to ensure women feel safe, respected and are not re-traumatized by our new home. As a feminist organization, we also recognize that not all women have the same experience and that taking an intersectional approach would be critical. We have taken the experiences women, newcomers to Canada, Indigenous peoples, queer, trans or gender diverse, who may have mobility issues or have experienced trauma in all the design and planning of the YW Hub
The new YW Hub will be the centre of YW Calgary’s operations, focusing on the needs of single or lone women fleeing abuse or experiencing poverty and homelessness. YW’s facility will provide accessible supports for women and their families including transitional housing, counselling, language and employment skills training, childcare spaces and parenting programming as well as support services to manage the organization. YW’s goal is to provide a safe and caring environment for the women and families we support and be a beacon for women in the community of Inglewood: a place where people can intersect, engage and thrive together.
YW has been an integral part of the Calgary community for more than 100 years, supporting women, elevating voices and driving towards seeing women thriving in a safe and equitable community.
We intend to be here when and where she needs us most, for as long as she needs us.