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February 15, 2017

New supportive housing for women and children in Moncton

“I don’t feel judged here, and that’s a big thing for me,” says Isabelle, who pauses and looks at her 8-month-old son. He’s sound asleep in their quiet 1-bedroom apartment at the YW Jean E.S. Irving Centre for Women and Children.

Developed by YWCA Moncton, the bilingual facility seeks to break the deep-rooted bonds of intergenerational poverty. Centrally located in Moncton, New Brunswick, the centre supports women and children in need.

Isabelle’s vibrant blue and purple hair matches her warm, grey-blue eyes. As a teenager, she struggled with depression and toxic relationships. “I was 7 months pregnant and didn’t have anyone or anywhere to go. It was a horrible feeling,” she says. “I didn’t know what to do financially, and was full of anxiety. That’s when I talked to Angel and applied to the program.”

Angel Theriault is the centre’s Housing Services Coordinator, and she manages the 15 units of supportive housing for women and children. Angel also coordinates the centre’s monthly activities, learning programs, transportation services and affordable childcare for residents and the community.

In the past several months, Angel has noticed a remarkable change in Isabelle. “She’s a different person than the young woman who first moved in,” she explains. “Isabelle has come out of her shell. She participates in everything and has become more confident and positive. The change is unbelievable.”

Sitting near the front window of her apartment, Isabelle reflects on the changes from the last year. Becoming a mother has helped her become more independent, and she feels a sense of belonging.

“I never lived on my own, so this is my own personal space,” she says with a smile. “It feels good to be responsible for paying bills.”

Isabelle is hopeful for the future. “Now that I have a baby, I feel like I really need to take care of myself more than ever before, and living here gives me the quietness and stability to do that — both for me and my boy.”

This project received funding from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and New Brunswick Social Development through the 2014-2019 Canada–New Brunswick Investment in Affordable Housing Agreement.