YWCA May Brown Place: Safe Affordable Family Homes in Memory of an Icon
In early 2021, our newest housing community for women and children will open in North Vancouver. Formerly known as YWCA St. Georges, this housing has been named YWCA May Brown Place.
Housing during a pandemic
A safe and affordable home is fundamental to a healthy and vibrant future where women and families can thrive. It can contribute to positive educational outcomes, good health and economic stability. However, many women and their children are precariously housed with limited options. The pandemic only heightens challenges such as unemployment, food insecurity and gender-based violence for single mothers and other equity-seeking groups -- Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, those in the LGBTQ2S+ community and people with disabilities. These difficult times have made the need for housing even more urgent.
The YWCA is committed to building safe, affordable housing for women and children. Making these projects a reality is a community effort; we are grateful for the support of private donors, developers, municipalities and other levels of government, in particular The Province of BC - BC Housing.
May Brown’s Legacy
When we think of May Brown, many qualities come to mind: dedicated, driven, passionate, innovative, influential, inspirational, a champion for gender equality, an icon.
Born in 1919 and always ahead of her time, May pursued a Master’s degree in physical education, leading her to become a teacher and field hockey coach at UBC. Providing children with opportunities to connect with nature, promoting women’s full participation in sports and mentoring women were key interests of hers.
In Vancouver, she served as Vancouver Park Board Commissioner and on City Council. May was a strong believer in the voice and experience of women in government and remained actively involved in supporting women who were seeking public office. She received the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia.
May’s involvement with the YWCA began in 1937, when she joined the Hi-Y Club at Surrey High School in Cloverdale. She later served on the Board of Directors and received a YWCA Women of Distinction Award in 1985. In 2018, May Brown was the first-ever recipient of the YWCA Women of Distinction Icon Award.
May passed away in 2019 at the age of 99.
A lead anonymous donor for this housing community generously offered the YWCA an opportunity to name it in honour of someone significant to the organization. We suggested May and her family graciously agreed. They shared:
“The YWCA, whether in British Columbia or Quebec, was an important part of May’s life for more than eight decades. During an interview in 1994 regarding the capital campaign she said: 'The Y is a continuity…People serving other people.’ In May’s early years the Y provided her with guidance, security and employment. In return she served and supported the YWCA in many capacities for the rest of her life.”
Help Build New Homes for Families
YWCA May Brown Place will provide 14 safe, affordable homes in an excellent location close to parks, groceries and a public library. Families will have access to outdoor and indoor amenity spaces, as well as YWCA resources such as child care, legal education and employment services.
The YWCA currently operates 204 units of housing across Metro Vancouver, including second-stage housing for women leaving intimate partner abuse. In addition to YWCA May Brown Place, four more housing communities, with 139 units, are underway.
We invite you to help address the housing crisis facing families with a donation to help build these much-needed homes:
YWCA No. 3 Road will provide 27 new safe, affordable homes in the heart of Richmond. This community will house single mother led-families, single women leaving violence and women aged 55+.
Our capital campaign goal is to raise $5.9M.
YWCA Grange Street will provide 32 homes for women and their children in Burnaby. The YWCA’s five-storey building will include an amenity space, a children’s play area and communal laundry facilities.
Our newest capital campaign goal is to raise $11.7M.
YWCA Arbutus Street will provide 125 new homes in Vancouver through a partnership with Tikva Housing Society and the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of BC. Housing will support women and children, low-income families and single people, seniors, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2S+ people and newcomers, among others. The YWCA will operate 32 of these homes.
YWCA Canada Way will deliver 48 new affordable homes in Burnaby. We are thrilled to partner with Cindy Beedie, whose philanthropy focuses on providing homes and education opportunities for women, as well as with the Province of BC - BC Housing and the City of Burnaby. The building will also include a child care centre.