A new supportive housing development and training facility is poised to help youth and single mothers transcend poverty and build better futures.

The property, one of Central City’s social purpose real estate projects, is operated by Aunt Leah’s Place and incorporates housing, a training facility and a thrift store that enable youth to finish school and train for new opportunities.

Central City Foundation purchased the building on 20th street in New Westminster to enable Aunt Leah’s Place to expand its services. Every inch of the building is being used: the basement is home to materials for Aunt Leah’s Christmas tree lots, the main floor houses a funky thrift shop that trains high schoolers for the retail profession, while the upper level is second-stage accommodations for young mothers who are at risk of losing their children to the foster care system.

“If youth are cared for at that critical juncture between the teenage years and adulthood, as they would in a parented home, a big part of the homeless problem would be addressed,” says Gale Stewart, founder and executive director of Aunt Leah’s.

Preventing the causes of homelessness is essential to improving lives and solving homelessness for good. When a young woman who is homeless or under-housed has a child, her child is taken from her and enters foster care. Once this happens, the likelihood of her child becoming homeless in the future is very high. And the cycle continues, unless there is the support to break it.

For more than 25 years, Aunt Leah’s has provided a safe and supportive environment for young people to learn to live independent lives. By offering a safe home, parenting support, training, skills development and work opportunities, Aunt Leah’s Place helps young women create better futures for themselves and their children. More importantly, it keeps families together and strengthens their bonds.

Central City Foundation is committed to investing in innovative solutions that improve the lives of our neighbours in need in the inner city. Over the next few years, with the continued support of our donors, we will be able to offer subsidized rent to Aunt Leah’s Place and help more young moms achieve their full potential.

For more information about Aunt Leah’s Place, visit auntleahs.org.