A century-old house in Dartmouth that the houses of the women coming out of prison were in dire need of repair.
After living on the streets and in and out of shelters for the past two years, Melody Wolfe said she finally feels at home at Elizabeth Fry Society’s Holly’s house.
“To be around such safe, secure and friendly staff is amazing,” she told Global News.
“Due to homelessness and other issues, I was in conflict with the law, which is very common on the street and I had nowhere to go,” Wolfe said, adding that she felt “lucky” to stay there.
The 42-year-old is one of many women currently living in the 10-bed house.
“They are very good at taking the lead and really encouraging you to be the best you can be…. I was able to get the medical treatment I needed, which was just life changing,” Wolfe said.
Nova Scotia invests $360K in housing facility for women converted back into society by crime
But Holly House has had better days. Dawn Corkum, property manager for the Elizabeth Fry Society, said the old house was falling into disrepair and they needed the proper funding to fix it.
“We’re looking at about half a million dollars to renovate,” Corkum told Global News.
“We normally get money from Nova Scotia’s Affordable Housing Association, but unfortunately we weren’t selected for this financial year. So that’s posed a huge drag on our renovation here and our ability to keep the place livable and upgrade the code for the women who live here. here. “
Corkum says the most immediate need is an upgrade to the facility’s shared kitchen, which she says is “decreasing pretty quickly.” A hole was developing in the ceiling due to water damage and falling cupboards.
“It is important that the women who live here in Holly House have access to a well-functioning kitchen,” she said.
“It gives them a place where they can dine together as a family. It provides them with stability as well as teaches them how to be independent. “
Corkum said there were many problems around the house, but without the necessary funds, the problems only got worse. She is concerned that the building could be condemned if it is not funded.
“If Holly House didn’t exist, we’d have a lot of vulnerable people out on the street, with no fixed address, so they wouldn’t have access to the surrounding support,” Corkum said.
“It really fails them when they don’t have facilities like ours.”
She said the society has submitted a proposal to Nova Scotia’s Department of Community Services and is currently awaiting a response. She said she would like to see more steady funding from the government to help foundations like Holly House.
“It is really important that people have a safe and stable place to live that they can call home and be able to become successful members of society, able to reintegrate and no recidivism”.
Bright future ahead
Wolfe has nothing but gratitude for Holly House and avoids “complaining” about the work that needs to be done, but admits the kitchen could use some TLC.
“It’s not feasible with the number of women here. Unfortunately, it needs a redo,” she said.
“You can’t cook for all nine women here at once, like maybe one or two can cook. So it really takes time.”
She’s happy to get back on her feet and credits much of her success to the Elizabeth Fry Society and Holly House.
“I cannot say enough about this organization, and especially Holly House. I would still be in jail without this house,” she said.
She has only been in the shelter for a month but already looks ahead to her bright future.
“I am studying day by day, but I have been accepted to Mount Saint Vincent University, so I want to start my studies in the fall, completing my honors English.”
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