Hamilton pauses admission of couples to emergency shelters amid domestic violence incidents

The City of Hamilton has put a pause on admitting couples into it's hotel-based temporary emergency shelter spaces as of Dec. 7, 2021 amid growing domestic violence incidents in recent weeks. Global News File

The City of Hamilton has put a pause on housing couples experiencing homelessness in it’s temporary hotel-based emergency shelter spaces due increasing reports of domestic violence.

In a release on Tuesday, the housing services division said the sanction is “temporary” pending a safety review of its intake procedures.

“To ensure it can continue to accommodate people who need shelter, the city’s hotel-based temporary emergency shelter will focus on increasing space for single women and ask men to access available spaces in the men’s system,” the city said in a statement.

“Couples who wish to develop joint housing plans to secure permanent housing together will be supported to do so. This existing process allows for the consideration of safety and risk assessments for couples wishing access.”

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The limits came into effect Dec. 7, following multiple reported incidents of concern raised by providers in the past two weeks.

A forthcoming safety evaluation of the couples-based emergency shelter policy is expected to involve advice from Indigenous partners, the Women’s Housing Planning Collaborative, and the Violence Against Women sector.

The existing couples’ emergency hotel shelter system was implemented during the pandemic due to an increased need.

Between January 2020 through September 2021, close to 485 households representing more than 1,000 individuals have had to be housed by the city due to homelessness, according the municipality.

Temporary expansion of shelter space moved from 341 to 507 beds plus additional overflow space, as well as a new temporary women’s shelter operated by Mission Services.

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“The city’s hotel-based temporary emergency shelter spaces do not have the resources to adequately support couples together experiencing domestic violence, nor those experiencing acute mental health and addictions related challenges,” staff revealed in their Tuesday release.

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