The Alberta Government is increasing support for the Safer Spaces certificate program.
The program has been in place since August 2016 and has issued 379 certificates, including two in Lloydminster. The certificates are used to help victims of family violence leave unsafe homes without fear of financial repercussions.
Executive Director of the Lloydminster Interval Home Society Angela Rooks-Trotzuk says that there is a process that has to happen before a certificate can be issued, but it is not a long one.
“They would meet with us, we would help them fill out their certificate and then they send it in and they have to speak to somebody within the office in the government office. Then they have to serve notice to their landlord so that’s where things can sometimes get a little bit tricky.”
Rooks-Trotzuk says the Interval Home in Lloydminster works in the area of family violence and is able to sign off on the certificates.
The Alberta Government announced additional support by funding a $50,000 Status of Women grant to the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta, where landlords and property managers will be trained to recognize signs of family violence, as well as giving them resources to help their tenants.
Rooks-Trotzuk says arming landlords with that information is one more person that can invoke the resources that are out there.
“They would be some of the first people that would recognize the signs of domestic violence whether it be damages in the home because property damage is a really common occurrence when it comes to domestic violence.”
Last year in Alberta almost 5,000 women and 3,800 children were in shelters seeking help. Rooks-Trotzuk says that the certificate is one more tool to help victims leave an unsafe situation and ease the financial stress.
“I have seen it decrease the stress in women that are trying to leave. There’s a huge financial burden when it comes to leaving domestic violence. A lot of times I would say eight out of ten times there’s lack of financial resources due to being isolated.”
To get a Safer Spaces certificate a tenant must give the Ministry of Community and Social Services a statement from a professional saying that they are in danger before the process can begin. Rooks-Trotzuk says if someone is in immediate danger their first step should be calling their local RCMP.