Fort Saskatchewan's Families First Society is bringing the first homes for victims of domestic violence to the community. 

The program, called 'Healing Homes', is slated to open in March 2023 and is medium-longer-term second-stage housing. The homes will accommodate two families at a time.

Residents of Healing Homes will have time to consider their options and work on goals that build stability, including finding housing, employment, and education.

"When we look at the stats of the folks that we serve, very few require immediate shelter, but 70 to 80 per cent of those women do require long-term housing, and that's what prevents them from leaving," says Jacqueline Dagneau, executive director of Families First.

Most women's shelters only offer a 21-day maximum stay but Healing Homes plan to allow residents to stay between six months and two years.

Second-stage housing is a term for houses for victims of domestic violence that are more long-term than first-stage housing, which is primarily used for emergencies.

Healing Homes started when local business owners Steve Switzer and Mike Hankirk came to Families First and offered to provide the funding needed for a local women's shelter. Families First say that Switzer and Hankirk were paramount to the formation of Healing Homes.

"It's really important to acknowledge that Families First isn't doing this alone," Dagneau said. "I cannot emphasize enough how important that is, and this is something we wouldn't have done without the support from others."

Families First's other partners include Heartland Housing, Raymond James, Jennifer Lucas of Royal LePage Nortalta Real Estate, Terry-Lynn McLaughlin of Jenkins and Jenkins, Boonstra Consulting, Bill Lucas of AmeriSpec Home Inspection services, the Fort Saskatchewan RCMP, and Dow Canada.