YWCA Housing: Martin and Minna's Story

YWCA Housing: Martin and Minna's Story

by Julia Nyberg

Minna left an abusive partner when her son, Martin, was only one year old. She struggled as a single parent, living paycheque to paycheque and scrounging her pennies so that she and Martin had enough food. 

They lived in the cheapest rental housing that they could find, including a suite infested with bugs and another where the landlord refused to turn on the heat, even in the cold winter weather.

Even though her abuser lives in Ontario and she has a restraining order, Minna was constantly worried that he would show up in British Columbia and threaten her and Martin. She felt like she was trapped in a hamster wheel, trying to keep their lives together.

Finding Como Lake

Then, Minna learned that the YWCA was building a new housing community called Como Lake Gardens. Developed in partnership with the Province of BC and the City of Coquitlam, YWCA Como Lake Gardens would provide supportive housing for single mothers and their children in Coquitlam, who are at risk of homelessness. Minna kept up to date on the project and submitted an application. She was thrilled to learn that she and Martin were accepted.

The first time that Minna and Martin opened the door to their unit, their mouths dropped open. They were so excited to have a bathtub, a dishwasher and a working fan in the kitchen. Martin says that his mom’s overall happiness changed. She became happier and they no longer have anything to argue about because they are so happy with their home.

Coming home

Today, Minna and Martin are happy to come home. Minna says that Como Lake Gardens is a happy building and the women look out for each other. She appreciates knowing that there are other residents who understand her and have been through similar situations. Minna feels confident that the building has excellent security measures in place. She now feels safe at home and safe from her abuser.

Minna obtained a diploma in social work from Douglas College in 2005 and has been working in the field since. She hopes to go back to university this fall to obtain a higher degree in social work. Martin is finishing his high school education and is focused on becoming a sports broadcaster after graduation. He's also been practising mixed martial arts for several years and has been assisting an instructor with a kids class at his dojo. 

Minna doesn’t want to think about where she and Martin would be if it weren’t for the YWCA. "Things are happy for us," she adds. Minna wants to thank the donors who make YWCA programs possible.

Learn more about Minna and Martin’s journey and the importance of safe, affordable housing for single mothers and their children. Their story was featured in a video at the Women of Distinction Awards in 2012