Students provide housing to victims of domestic violence and youth aging out of care
UM students Jamie Pfau and her partner Kevin Pfau, saved up for over a year to purchase safe and affordable housing for two underserved populations in Manitoba — female survivors of domestic violence and their children and youth aging out of care. The idea for their project, Peace for All of Us, partly began when the couple were social work research assistants at the University of Manitoba.
“We started this project for two reasons: first, as foster parents for ten years, we recognized the need for more and better housing options for youth aging out of care,” says Jamie, a master of social work student. “And second: after Kevin and I were both involved as research assistants with RESOLVE at UM, we knew we had to do something. We decided housing for both populations was the best way we could help.”
In the summer of 2019, Kevin, a bachelor of social work student, was diagnosed with cancer and within a week had surgery. “Going through this changed our lives, our perspectives, and our belief that time was something we had on our side,” says Jamie. “We decided our priority would be to come up with a 12-month savings/investing plan to purchase two homes. Fourteen months later, in October of 2020, we purchased two units.”
Jamie and Kevin saw first-hand the dangers women are facing through working with RESOLVE, a UM research centre focused on uncovering the causes of violence and mapping out effective strategies to prevent and alleviate violence, especially against women and girls.
“Through our research with RESOLVE, we learned that the most dangerous period for a woman is when she is taking the steps to leave her partner, and immediately after she has left,” says Jamie. “We need to do better for these women and their children.”
The work the Pfaus have put into Peace for All of Us has been an inspiration to their classmates and professors. “We have two remarkable students who have dedicated themselves to helping others,” says Kendra Nixon, associate professor, Faculty of Social Work and director of RESOLVE. “Jamie and Kevin are truly an inspiration and demonstrate how individuals can make a huge difference in the lives of others.”
Kevin and Jamie were lucky to find each other because their passions are identically aligned. Their primary goal in life is to prevent more children from coming into the government’s care.
“Too many children who are in care in Manitoba end up homeless, involved in the criminal justice system or are victims of crime,” says Jamie. “We want to do our part in ending this cycle.”
The Pfaus understand that they have been able to start this project because of the privilege they grew up with. They also want to show others that this privilege can be used to make real change and lift others up.
“Imagine if every woman, who fled a violent relationship with her children had a safe, affordable, and nice housing option that allowed her children to flourish,” says Jamie. “Fewer children would be torn from their families to become involved with CFS.”
To contribute to Peace for Us All, please contact Jamie Pfau at ummolter [at] myumanitoba [dot] ca or visit their GoFundMe at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/peace-for-all-of-us-safe-and-affordable-housing?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1