Our story begins in November 1981, when the Board of Halifax Transition House Association identified the need for longer term housing for abused women and their children in the Metro area. At the time, alternative housing was available for the crisis period only – a maximum of six weeks. Rental units available to low income families were either suitable but over-priced or affordable but sub-standard. Many women had no option but to return to the violent homes they had left, putting their lives and the lives of their children at risk.
A committee was formed to help women transition from a shelter to a permanent home and independence. It was soon recognized this undertaking was too large to be operated solely by a committee. Alice House was born.
Incorporated in November 1982, Alice House was the second project of its kind to be established in Canada. Its mandate was two-fold: to provide safe and affordable housing for abused women and their children after the crisis stage; and to provide a supportive environment in which women can make changes they consider important in their lives. The first women came to Alice House in March 1983.
It was not until October of 1990 that the Coordinator’s position evolved from a part-time to full-time position. Her responsibilities included full-time support to 16 women as well as building maintenance. Initially, her salary was paid by the Sisters of Charity, but this was later assumed by United Way Halifax. The survival of Alice House has always depended on the generosity of community members and organizations.
Today, our work aligns with three priority areas: safe housing, counselling and support services, and educating the public about intimate partner violence. Over the years, more positions have been added to provide extra support to women and their children. Alice House now has eight employees and its own voluntary Board of Directors.