When Joanna MacDonald, founder of Piper & Skye, spoke with shelters she works with to provide personal safety masks, she realized there was a much bigger issue at hand amidst the current pandemic: finding temporary housing for residents in shelters who’re ready to begin their transition back into society. This was key in order for the shelters to free up beds and take in new cases.

Joanna MacDonald, founder of Piper & Skye.

MacDonald decided to take action and with a powerhouse team of experts, she launched Safe Transitions: a not-for-profit organization founded to support overrun shelters housing survivors of domestic abuse, human trafficking and homelessness. Safe Transitions acts as an intermediary organization connecting shelters with property managers and developers to provide temporary and affordable housing.

“While most of us are safe at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are women and children whose homes are the furthest place from safe,” said MacDonald. “Our goal is to provide additional support for these overrun shelters that will help offset increased demand and in turn, save lives.”

According to York Regional Police, incidents of violence have been on the rise since the beginning of COVID-19, including a 22 per cent rise in domestic incidents. In the last 30 days, offices have responded to nearly 700 domestic incidents.

Safe Transitions’ pilot program is already underway thanks to a partnership between Toronto Boutique Apartments and Covenant House Toronto. Safe Transitions is currently assisting shelters located within Toronto and the GTA.

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STYLE Canada

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