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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 22, 1975, Lethbridge, Alberta their education, or taking Manpower training or retraining. "Basically, our mothers are women who want to better themselves and improve their Harakal says. "They want to be self-sufficient to provide for themselves and their children. So ours is a supportive role while they are achieving this." The first group home in Vancouver Mary Davis lives with son loshua and his friend Vicki Gabriel in a Vancouver group home (or singles. was established in 1969 when four un- married mothers, each with one child, pooled their resources, rented a home and moved in. One mother stayed home with the children while the others went out to work. But the women found they couldn't manage financially and the experiment fizzled. The YWCA was then asked to ad- minister .a program for communal housing for single parents. The first thing the YWCA did was consider what had gone wrong with the first effort. Apart from the lack of money, the arrangement of child care was considered unfair to the mother who stayed home. This time, a house- keeper was hired to look after the children during the day. The program is functioning well today. There are three co-op homes with a fourth about to be opened. Each mother pays monthly and is responsible for the upkeep of the house and garden. The program now operates a fully licensed day-care centre and only babies under 18 months are cared for by a house- keeper in the group home. As the mothers' monthly incomes are almost invariably below the day-care centre is subsidized by the British Columbia government. "The women here have got to be relatively stable says Harakal. "Each has already got about all the stress and problems she can handle. One of the dangers of the program is the type of woman who needs so much support she's a drain on the others. A whole house can fall apart overnight." Wherever they choose to live, single mothers are among the hardest hit by inflation and the housing shortage. In the eyes of landlords they are un- desirable tenants with two strikes against them: they have children and they lack the assumed security of a husband. I talked to a number of young single mothers who went through humiliating experiences, all because the landlord had a hangup about sin- gle mothers. Sylvia, for example, a 25- year-old unmarried mother of a 2- year-old son, agrees that housing has been one of her biggest problems, but she shudders at the thought of com- munal living. "I was about seven months preg- nant when I went looking for an apart- she recalls. "I found a nice one that I could afford and the landlord brought out the lease for my husband to sign. I said I wasn't married. Then the landlord said 'Oh no, no, no, noooo... there'll be men tramping through here at all And he wouldn't rent to me." Last year she went looking again. "It was terrible. Everything was so ex- pensive ISylvia lives on welfare] and what was available was in really hor- rible parts of the city." Finally she found a bright apartment on a pleasant street. This landlord de- manded a co-signatory to guarantee the rent. Sylvia gave the janitor and he agreed to do it. "After that I kept expecting him to make a pass at Sylvia says. "Once he kissed my cheek and I really told him off. I haven't had any more trou- ble from him but I really keep out of the way." She lives on a month, plus an occasional from her child's father, and she admits the going is tough financially. The apartment is clean but sparsely furnished. Her son is well fed with the most nutritious of foods but to do that Sylvia cuts back on what she eats herself. lanice, also 25, and the mother of a 5-year-old, is a full-time college student living on welfare in Montreal. She gets per month plus week towards her son's weekly, day-care fee. She solved her housing problems by getting two roommates, one female and one male, and by saying she was married to the latter. Like Sylvia, she had been through a number of demoralizing experiences with landlords who simply refused to rent to an unmarried mother and several times she had to settle for Continued PERSONAL CONFIDENTIAL 100 Esplanade Avenue WINNIPEG, Manitoba R5B 7C4 ;