Interval House

Interval House provides a continuum of services that enable abused women and children to have access to safe shelter and responsive services that help them establish lives free from violence. The continuum includes integrated and specialized services related to counselling, advocacy, outreach, legal and housing support, as well as programs to help build economic self-sufficiency. Our public education and advocacy activities are intended to raise awareness, with a view to eliminating violence against women and children in our society.

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

“The house was scrubbed and painted, the beds were made and Interval House was ready for   occupancy on April 1, 1973” – Lynn Zimmer, Interval House FounderIt has been a long, often heartbreaking journey from those first tentative steps in the three-storey house in the Annex area. Interval House opened as the first abused women’s shelter in North America when a small band of volunteers resolved to provide an emergency refuge for women and children fleeing abusive homes. Using a government grant to rent a former rooming house and then pooling their money to stock the kitchen with groceries, the founders of Interval House created a haven that has continued to serve the GTA for 39 years.  But no longer is the shelter simply a place to sleep and eat free from violence – the agency has evolved to provide holistic programming to help women on their journeys to independence. And after moving into our new facility in downtown Toronto in 2005, we’re helping more women and children than ever!

Accolades and Accomplishments

  • In 2001, Interval House launched a successful $4.6 million capital campaign,Rebuild the Home that Rebuilds Lives, to purchase and renovate our existing facility. With the assistance of our patrons, volunteer advisors, and ambassadors we met and surpassed our campaign goal by raising $5 million.
  • In 2004, Interval House became the first women’s shelter that has partnered with private-market landlords to provide rent-geared-to-income units to survivors of domestic violence. In 2014, Interval House launched the expansion of the Her Home Housing Project, partnering with shelters in Ottawa and Hamilton to allow women in those cities to access rent-geared-to-income units.
  • In 2011 Interval House launched "Opening Doors" - a new program that gives women a housing subsidy and employment supports to help her on her journey to independence.

Our Programs How We Do It

Residential Services:

  • As its core program, Interval House’s 30-bed residence is generally full 365 days a year. Providing distress counselling 24 hours a day, the program offers accommodation, food and emergency clothing.

Women’s Counselling Program:

  • Offers group discussion and counselling to help women overcome the violence that has been part of their lives. Cultural interpreters are available for women whose first language is not English.

Children’s Services:

  • Provides individual and group counselling, expressive art groups and much needed recreational activities.

Court Support:

  • Includes information on the legal issues such as custody, criminal charges, and property division; advises women of their options; and provides court accompaniment.

BESS (Building Economic Self-Sufficiency):

  • Seeks out solutions for practical re-entry into the workforce through Employment Strategies Workshops, Job Development, case management and referrals.

Transitional Housing and Resettlement Program:

  • Provides assistance in securing safe and affordable housing, housing-related workshops, ongoing case management to help women settle into their new communities, and access to a furniture bank to furnish new households.

Building Economic Self-Sufficiency (BESS)

The Building Economic Self-Sufficiency Program (BESS) is designed to help women change their life’s course by providing career and development programs that are responsive, effective, and supportive. BESS involves:

  • Tailored Employment Strategies Workshops to help women gain the confidence and knowledge needed for a successful job search;
  • The opportunity to work with a Job Developer for support in the job search and maintenance of employment;
  • Information and Referrals available to women and agencies requiring information on education, skills development and employment plans;
  • Case Management which is available to women requiring additional support. Counsellors help clients create action plans, defining their skills and interests, and mapping their routes to attaining their defined goals.

Funding and Program Partners

Core funding is provided by:

  • Ministry of Community and Social Services
  • United Way Toronto

 Other funding is provided by:

  • Individual & Corporate Donors

Program Impact

The Building Economic Self-Sufficiency (BESS) Program offers women who have fled abuse the chance to rebuild their lives. Last year, 69% of program graduates found stable employment. Most importantly, BESS grads have told us that the program has changed their lives, helping them find the confidence they needed to become truly independent.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"About 1 in 10 people in Toronto’s workforce were unemployed in July 2012 – a rate one-third higher than the whole country’s (7.3%)." 

Participant Vignette

When Rosa visits Interval House now, she comes with words of encouragement for the women who are nervously taking their first steps toward independence.But it wasn’t always this way. When Rosa first arrived at her intake interview for the BESS program, she spoke emotionally of her history of abuse. She had no friends, and a negative outlook for her future. Though she doubted the program would be helpful, Rosa decided to attend the two-week Employment Strategies Workshops. Quiet at the beginning, Rosa gradually opened up and found herself not only learning valuable employment skills, but also socializing and making friends. Her newfound skills and friendships changed her entire perspective – suddenly her future didn’t look so bleak.After completing the program Rosa began to apply for jobs, landing many interviews but unable to secure any job offers. The BESS Job Developer worked one-on-one with Rosa to enhance her interview, presentation and language skills. With this additional coaching, Rosa found a job in her field that she is extremely happy with and is supporting herself in a way that she never imagined.

Transitional Housing and Resettlement Program

  • Transitional Housing and Resettlement Program – This program assists women through the daunting task of moving into their own homes and resettling into new communities. The Transitional Housing and Resettlement Program is comprised of four essential elements that a woman can access to begin her journey to independence:
  • The Her Home Housing Project – In a progressive and unique partnership with Minto Management Limited, GWL Realty Advisors, CAP REIT and Oxford Properties, Interval House is able to provide 10 rent-geared-to-income units to women in the BESS program for up to one year.
  • Housing-Related Workshops covering topics such as tenant rights, financial planning and assistance, permanent housing search, and eviction protection.
  • Housing-Related Counselling – participants each receive one-on-one counselling to help them prepare for long-term permanent housing. Counselling may include assistance with searching for and viewing apartments, help calling landlords, and conflict resolution.
  • Furniture Bank – Through generous donations from our donors and corporate partners, Interval House is able to help furnish new households.

Funding and Program Partners

Core funding is provided by:

  • Ministry of Community and Social Services
  • United Way Toronto

Subsidized apartments provided by:

  • Minto Management Limited
  • CAP REIT
  • Great West Life Realty Advisors
  • Oxford Properties

Funding in the past has been provided by:

  • Individual & Corporate Donors

Program Impact

The average market rent and long waiting lists for subsidized housing in Toronto makes finding affordable housing challenging for women who have experienced abuse and who are low-income earners. The Transitional Housing and Resettlement Program gives them the confidence to find and maintain safe and affordable housing. Through this program, women receive the support they need while they search for a new home and settle into their new communities.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"The Toronto Region has experienced a 40% deterioration in housing affordability since 2004 and affordability is still being eroded."

Participant Vignette

“My experience with BESS program has been life changing. I came to the program after fleeing and abusive relationship and unsure of how to stand on my own two feet. I was living in an apartment with five roommates and a landlord who did not do things by the book. On top of that, my lease was expiring and I had no idea where I was going to live giving my budget restraints due to unemployment and being on Ontario Works. 

Now I live in a beautiful apartment by myself, in a safe neighbourhood and safe building. Everyday I am thankful for the feeling of safety that comes with living here. With the support of, Interval House I am now employed full time, living on my own and working towards sustainability. If the programs that Interval House offers did not exist, I would probably still be unemployed, on social assistance and stumbling through life unsure of how to reach my goals.”

- Interval House Transitional Housing and Resettlement Client

Children’s Program

Interval House's Children's Program takes a multi-layered approach when helping children deal with the abuse they have witnessed and endured. There are several key components to the Children’s Program:

  • Group Counselling – Group counselling also allows children to have the opportunity to share their experiences fostering a sense of respect among the children and breaking through the silence and isolation pervasive in situations of family violence
  • Individual Counselling – Counsellors work one-on-one with children, actively encouraging mothers to participate in their counselling
  • Male Facilitator – provides a positive male role model for children during groups, and gives children a forum where they can observe positive female-male interactions
  • Art Group – The Children’s Art Group gives children the opportunity to use the creative process to work through traumatic experiences and move toward healing and recovery
  • Toronto Police Service Recreational Outreach and Outtripping Program (TROOP) – A camping trip facilitated by Toronto Police Services designed to build positive relationships between at-risk youth and police officers.
  • Family Activities – Children also take part in recreational activities such as trips to Black Creek Pioneer Village, and volunteer-run workshops such as dance classes
  • Mother’s Connection – Interval House participates in the Nobody’s Perfect program, operated in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Mothers In Mind program facilitated by the Child Development Institute. This aspect of our Residential Program helps victims of abuse become more confident in their parenting skills, and reinforces their relationships with their children.

Funding and Program Partners

Core funding is provided by:

  • Ministry of Community and Social Services
  • United Way Toronto

 Other funding is provided by:

  • Individual & Corporate Donors

Program Impact

Interval House’s Children’s Program allows children to explore their emotions in safe, supportive environment. By learning positive male-female roles, healthy conflict resolution and giving them the opportunity to express themselves and share their experiences, children who participate in the program are able to break the cycle of violence in their lives.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"Youth use arts-based approaches to address issues."

Participant Vignette

“Adapting to life in the shelter was very difficult for me at first. I had been very comfortable at home with my mother and my friends and found it hard sharing rooms and having more kids around.” Lian arrived at the shelter with her family when she was just nine years old.“I could sense my mother’s stress but she remained comforting and loving to me. The staff were very good to us. Mom talks about the Interval House staff to this day – grateful for the support and confidence they gave her.” Staff were also supportive of the children living at the shelter. “We would go on outings with a group leader, without a parent, just the children. It just let you be a kid again.” Lian and her mother stayed for six months before moving out on their own. However, Lian’s father soon found out where they were living, so for safety reasons, she and her mother moved back to Interval House where they remained for another year. “It was a traumatic experience which only made me more compassionate towards women and children. I’m currently majoring in social work and my experience at Interval House has definitely impacted my career choice and my desire to help other families.”

What You Can Do

Building Economic Self-Sufficiency (BESS)

Activities a donation will support

  • 11 two-week BESS workshops provided each year with 5-10 students per class
  • Provide at least 55 women with suits for job interviews through the Career Boutique
  • Conduct 7 community presentations and provide 2 Information Sessions per year for potential community partners
  • Case manage 81 clients through Job Development program
  • Establish at least 6 new corporate/employer partnerships per year

Donation impact

Grants to this program will:

  • Allow women who have experienced abuse to establish supportive relationships with classmates and staff to break social isolation
  • Allow women to learn specific marketable skills and strategies to help them find and maintain employment
  • Assist women in their search for meaningful employment in their field
  • Give women access to a Job Developer who will help them identify their career goals and develop a plan to achieve them
  • Provide the opportunity for more community groups to learn about the program, and to begin referring their clients
  • Create the opportunity for the Job Developer to network with more potential employers and raise awareness about violence against women in the private sector

Transitional Housing and Resettlement Program

Activities a donation will support

Donations to this program will support:

  • Delivery of 12 housing workshops each year
  • Case management of at least 85 women each year
  • Preparation of departure packages for women moving into new homes. Departure packages include maps of the new neighbourhood with links to local daycares, clinics, and other resources
  • Delivery of 4 Life Skills workshops per year
  • Management of Interval House’s Household Boutique – a storeroom of household items generously donated by community members for women to use when furnishing their new homes
  • 10 clients as they move into rent-geared-to-income apartments provided by Minto, CAP REIT, GWL Realty Advisors and Oxford Properties
  • Delivery of two Resettlement Client reunions – the Summer Picnic and the Winter Event

Donation impact

Financial support for this program will help ensure that:

  • Women are aware of how to manage their housing issues and concerns, including how to search for a new home, how to read a lease agreement and how to maintain their apartment
  • Women learn about the resources available to them in their new community and become less dependent on the shelter system
  • Women are able to quickly move into rent-geared-to-income units provided by our partner landlords if they do not qualify for subsidized housing
  • Women are confident in their ability to manage their new homes

Children’s Program

Activities a donation will support

A grant to the Children’s Program will support:

  • 50 Children’s Group sessions with at least 5 children per group
  • Supplies for 50 Art Group sessions with at least 4 children per session
  • 100 Family Activity sessions including game nights, baking and
  • Weekly recreational activities including
  • 2 six-week Nobody’s Perfect sessions per year
  • One week-long TROOP outing each summer

Donation impact

Financial support for this program will enable the opportunity for:

  • Mothers and their children to re-establish the bond that is so often broken by the experience of abuse
  • Children to become more open and trusting
  • Children to interact more with their peers, establishing friendships that will last well beyond their stay at the shelter
  • Children to feel safe to express their fears, concerns and feelings
  • Children tp learn positive male-female interactions and challenge attitudes and behaviours that contribute to the cycle of violence and female-male stereotypes
  • Children to learn healthy conflict resolution strategies
  • Families to get much-needed recreation time by visiting attractions like the museum – a first for many of our residents

Contact

Lesley Ackrill
Executive Co-Director
416.924.1411 x224
Charitable Number: 118971159RR0001

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