Last week, we took a closer look at one of our Legacy Grant Recipients, the Aboriginal Mothers Centre Society (AMCS), and how they help one of the most vulnerable populations in Vancouver, low-income single mothers and their children.  Today, our blog looks at the second Legacy Grant Recipient, the YWCA’s Crabtree Corner.

Like RLCF and the AMCS, Crabtree Corner shares the same vision that everyone deserves the best possible chance in life, no matter what their circumstances are.  Located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Crabtree Corner’s mission is to help single mothers and their families break the cycle of poverty, and to raise awareness of the reality of low-income women and single mothers in Vancouver.

Supporting families in the Downtown Eastside

Crabtree Corner looks at the barriers that keep low-income women in the poverty cycle and provides the resources and programs to support them as they work towards their goals of personal and economic independence.  This continuum of support includes housing options, food and nutrition programs, quality subsidized child care, access to developmental and medical assistance for children, parenting programs, and literacy programs.  Crabtree also partners with SheWay, which offers medical and other support resources for women and new mothers struggling with substance abuse issues.

Since opening in 2004, Crabtree Corner Housing’s greatest successes have been the reunifications between women and their families.  While our society often writes off these vulnerable women once they become pregnant, Crabtree Housing Staff see this as the moment of greatest potential for change.  Once they have access to safe, affordable housing and other related supports, the number of women who have leveraged that opportunity to make dramatic and lasting changes has been nothing short of remarkable.

YWCA photo2

Building on their success

Many of the women in Crabtree Corner Housing are incredibly marginalized; recovering with substance abuse issues while also learning to support themselves and parent their children in a healthy way.  As a result of years of being street-entrenched, their relationships with money are often unhealthy.  Crabtree found that specially designed financial literacy programs, acknowledging the different starting place and unique life-experiences of these women, was the most empowering way to deliver financial information.  The Financial Literacy program at Crabtree Housing also includes a Peer Mentorship component, as women further along on their journey of sobriety and parenting, have much to offer women who are just starting out.

The Financial Literacy program gave women the skills and confidence to become economically stable down the road, while the Peer Mentorship program allowed to women to hear from others who were further along in their journey, and to see how they were navigating the system.  Unfortunately, due to funding restraints, the program had to be cut.  However, with the help of the Robert L. Conconi Foundation Legacy Grant, Crabtree Corner Housing will be able to re-establish the vital program for another three years, and to find a steady source of funding the meantime.

Looking Ahead

Crabtree has some exciting goals and plans on the horizon.  First, they are looking for opportunities to offer more affordable housing opportunities for vulnerable women.  YWCA Crabtree Corner Housing currently has capacity to house 12 women, and at any given time, there are often more than 30 women on the waiting list.  YWCA also has a number of other safe, affordable housing options for low-income single mothers as well as women and children fleeing abuse.  You can find more information about these housing communities on their website.

Secondly, Crabtree Corner has recognized a need for second stage support to help women with the next phase of their life before they are fully independent.  To address this need, they are building the Cause We Care House, in partnership with Vancouver Public Library and the City of Vancouver.  Slated to open in May 2016 in Strathcona, the House will offer low-income mothers and their families a place to live for 1/3 of their income, ensuring that they can save money and that their needs are met.

How can you get involved with Crabtree Corner?

The best way you can help Crabtree Corner is by contributing to their donation room.  They’re looking for donations such as clean, gently used clothing, shoes, winter coats and other household items.  Crabtree Corner uses the donation room to create moving in and out packages for the women using their services, as women often come to them with absolutely nothing.  By the time they’re ready to leave, the goal is to provide them with enough to furnish their first apartment.

You can also give Crabtree Corner a cash donation, visit their website to find out how.

To learn more about Crabtree Corner and YWCA’s other programs, watch the video below.


Questions or comments? Reach out to us in the comment section below, or visit us on social media.


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