Mental illness and addiction can be devastating to families, especially those who are already struggling. Harm reduction, social support, and stable housing can go a long way to help these families.

That’s why the 24th annual REALTORS Care® Blanket Drivesupports local housing projects like the Budzey.

The Budzey is a unique social housing project run by RainCity that supports women and women-run families. The 146-unit facility connects the women and families living there with a comprehensive range of services designed to support women and their families with stable, long-term housing.

What makes the Budzey unique is its approach to family.

“We’re the only program like us – we have a huge focus on family reunification,” said Nikki Scott, manager of the Budzey. “Between our family program and our suites, we have mothers, aunts, fathers. We keep families together. That matters.”

The Budzey takes an inclusive approach to what they do. While both men and women live there, all leases are under women’s names. The building itself is named after Lorna Budzey, a Downtown Eastside resident who pushed RainCity to be more inclusive and welcoming.

"We’re the only program like us – we have a huge focus on family reunification. Between our family program and our suites, we have mothers, aunts, fathers. We keep families together. That matters."
Nikki Scott, manager of the Budzey.

The women who live in the Budzey face many challenges, including mental health and addiction, according to Scott.

Donations from programs like the Blanket Drive are key to supporting places like the Budzey.

“The suites we offer are sparsely furnished. We always need blankets and such,” said Scott.

When this year’s Blanket Drive donations come in, REALTOR® Laura-Leah Shaw will be delivering them to the Budzey.

Shaw’s worked with the Blanket Drive for over 20 years, delivering supplies directly to places that need them the most.

“We try to sort everything to the recipient,” Shaw said. “For example, a lot of our stuff goes to people on the streets, so we reserve things like fleeces for them. For places like Budzey, we bring things like big, cozy wool blankets.”

For housing projects like the Budzey, many new items that are donated are given as Christmas presents for tenants.

Outside of the Blanket Drive, Laura-Leah supports places like Budzey through personal donations. She often uses her profession to source items these shelters desperately need.

“Because of our access to real estate, we often get things like furniture that I bring here,” Shaw said. “They like dressers, but we also bring chairs, small appliances, wardrobes, dishes – you name it.”

Food security is also an issue for the Budzey. There’s no formal food program, so the building relies on donations to hand out to their residents. Because of their focus on women and families, diapers and formula are also sorely needed.

If you want to support the Budzey, or RainCity, donate to your warm clothing and blankets to one of the over 150 real estate offices accepting donations this weekend. If you missed the deadline, or if you want to donate directly, contact RainCity.