Since 2020, Families First Society has noticed an increase in referrals to their Family Violence Prevention Program (FVPP).

Many referrals into the FVPP involve participants looking for long-term housing, and not necessarily a women's shelter.

"70 to 80 per cent of those women that we serve do require that long-term housing, and that's what prevents them from leaving," said Jacqueline Dagneau, executive director of Families First Society. "They think 'well, I could go to a shelter, but that's typically a 21-day stay. What am I going to do after that?'."

Between 2020 and 2021, FVPP noticed a 130 per cent increase in referrals and a 40 per cent increase in the year after.

Families First Society has been trying to help those in need through several initiatives, including the newly announced Healing Homes, the first second-stage housing in Fort Saskatchewan.

Originally, investors Steve Switzer and Mike Hankirk had proposed bringing a women's shelter to Fort but decided on second-stage housing when they discovered only a small percentage of women were looking for emergency shelters and that there were also women's shelters in the area, such as A Safe Place in Sherwood Park, that offer emergency shelter for residents of Fort Saskatchewan.