The SARA for Women building in Mission is old, deteriorating in condition, and at risk of losing beds and space. Google Maps image.

The SARA for Women building in Mission is old, deteriorating in condition, and at risk of losing beds and space. Google Maps image.

SARA for Women aims to expand services by redeveloping facility in Mission

Non-profit gets speedy rezoning from council, making it eligible for federal grant money

SARA for Women is seeking to redevelop its facility on 1st Avenue, and expand services to the community.

The non-profit is hoping to win federal grant money that would completely cover the cost of the redevelopment, but needed the property rezoned for higher density quickly before the grant deadline on May 31. Council approved the request on March 21.

Redevelopment of the 710 square metre building would expand capacity by providing more affordable housing, offices and program space, counselling services, as well as a temporary shelter with showers and laundry, according to a letter from Jennifer Breakspear, SARA for Women’s executive director.

She said the current building is old, deteriorating in condition, and at risk of losing beds and space.

“SARA needs significantly more housing capacity to support the community needs. The Santa Rosa facility is currently prime for redevelopment given the extensive growing capital cost of upkeep,” Breakspear said.

Between April 2020 and March 2021, the non-profit was able to help 75 women and 68 children get into second stage housing, offer housing support for 591 women, and had over 2,600 shelter guests, according to Breakspear.

But during the same time, 884 women and 648 children were turned away from transitional houses in Abbotsford and Mission.

“There is a much greater need for the services that SARA provides in the community than we can currently accommodate,” she said.

SARA for Women has approximately 100 employees in Abbotsford and Mission, making it the largest service helping women and children in the Fraser Valley.

It provides a safe place for women and children fleeing violence by offering short and long-term housing facilities, as well as counselling and outreach services.

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