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Catholic Vancouver Sept. 6, 2017

Talitha Koum Society buys a second home

By Agnieszka Krawczynski

Talitha Koum Society staff trim and water the lawn outside the home they recently purchased with the help of the City of Coquitlam. (Sharon De Lalla / Special to The B.C. Catholic)

COQUITLAM—More women in need will soon receive addiction treatment and support thanks to a new partnership between the Talitha Koum Society and the City of Coquitlam.

The non-profit, which reaches out to women addicted to drugs or alcohol, bought a home in Coquitlam with the help of a $600,000 grant from the city.

“It’s great! It will be doubling our capacity,” said Sharon De Lalla, executive director of Talitha Koum.

Prior to the purchase, the organization owned one home in Coquitlam with nine beds. The new home, acquired this summer, will add another nine beds to the program.

“The need is there. For us to be able to take in more women and children, and know we can set them on a path for their future, is a big part of the reason I work here. We’re able to change lives.”

The organization had to match the $600,000 grant with its own funds to buy the home. De Lalla hopes the amount will also cover the cost of renovations as they work to have the second home fully operational in the spring of 2018. “This way, we can help twice as many people.”

Talitha Koum staff hope renovations will be complete by spring 2018. (Sharon De Lalla / Special to The B.C. Catholic)

Talitha Koum offers a safe home for drug or alcohol addicted women as they work through a 12-step addiction program, get clean, and seek resources to go back to school or find employment. Their children can live in the home with them.

The organization has been around for about 17 years, but until last year operated out of rental properties in Coquitlam, Burnaby, and Vancouver.

“We never had security of tenure, being renters, so we had to move as houses were either sold or owners wanted them for their use,” said De Lalla.

Until about two years ago, they were operating two rental homes, then consolidated to one house to save on operating expenses. Last year, thanks to a partnership with B.C. Housing, they bought their first home.

“We have stability in housing for the first time in our history.”
Sharon De Lalla

Now, with the City of Coquitlam, the organization has purchased its second. “We have stability in housing for the first time in our history,” said De Lalla.

She’s thrilled about the expansion. “We serve all of B.C. We have women that come from the Island, that come from the Interior,” she said. “There's such a need in the community and to be able to offer these many beds is amazing.”

Talitha Koum has been operating in Coquitlam since 2002. The city chose the organization as the first recipient of the $600,000 grant from an Affordable Housing Reserve Fund set up in 2015.

“This is a group that provides enormous service to the community, but has traditionally done it on a shoestring and without municipal partnership,” said Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart when the partnership was first announced last year.

“I think that, where we can, we should partner with groups like this to make sure they are more stable in the services they can offer.”

In a press release, the City of Coquitlam said it is seeking more partnerships under the AHRF.