VANCOUVER -- Kicking off 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, the province is creating dozens of safe shelter spaces and homes for women and children leaving violence.

The spaces will be spread amongst 11 buildings throughout B.C. and run by non-profit groups that specialize in housing and supports for women. 

Along with funding to build the homes, the province is giving additional funding for support services like safety planning, referrals, financial assistance and emotional support. 

"It's encouraging to see communities and partners around the province working together to ensure that women and children have safe and secure places to go when they need help," said Selina Robinson, minister of municipal affairs and housing. 

"Everyone deserves to live a life free of violence with hope for the future, and we are working hard to create more homes and opportunities for women and children to thrive."

The province says it's also working to address gender-based violence by improving economic security of women through expanded access to affordable childcare, a higher minimum wage and better housing affordability. 

"Having worked for much of my career in the social sector, I can tell you that these investments are long overdue," said Mitzi Dean, parliamentary secretary for gender equity. 

"I know we have a lot of work to do, and I'm grateful for the many community partners involved in bringing these essential housing projects to reality. The next 16 days are an emphasis on the work that has already begun. From the historic waves of feminism, to today's #MeToo movement, together, we can end gender-based violence."

Through this project, 260 shelter and housing spaces will be created including transition, safe, second-stage and long-term homes. 

The transition spaces will be staffed 24-7 and offer safe, short-term shelter and supports for women, usually for 30 days. 

The safe homes offer short-term shelter for about 10 days for women and children fleeing violence in rural and remote communities. 

Finally, second-stage housing provides short-term housing for women who have left an abusive relationship or situation. Typically, women can stay for six to 18 months in these homes. 

In the Lower Mainland the following projects have been approved to support women leaving violence:

  • Abbotsford's SARA Society for Women will run up to 12 units of second-stage housing
  • Vancouver's Kettle Friendship Society will run up to 10 units of second-stage housing
  • Vancouver's Atira Women's Resource Society will run up to 10 beds of transition housing for older women and 28 units of second-stage and long-term housing
  • Sechelt's Sunshine Coast Community Services will run up to 30 units of long-term housing

Other units will be opened in northern B.C., the Interior and on Vancouver Island.