Largest Atlantic women’s shelter turns people away due to capacity issues

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick domestic violence shelter too full'
New Brunswick domestic violence shelter too full
WATCH: The largest domestic violence shelter in Atlantic Canada is so full, they are having to turn people away. It’s a demand for service that has led to bare food shelves and a call for help. Suzanne Lapointe reports – Jul 21, 2022

The largest women’s shelter in Atlantic Canada is so full they are having to turn people away.

According to Crossroads for Women Executive Director Chantal Poirier, the New Brunswick shelter has been consistently running at full capacity since March, which took such a toll on their food stocks, they had to turn to social media for help.

“Usually when we’re at full capacity we can handle it for a couple weeks and our food supply is fine but seeing as it’s been going on since March, and even throughout the winter the numbers were quite high, our stocks were running quite low,” Poirier told Global News on Thursday.

Community members restocked the pantry shelves in response to the shelter’s call for food donations last week.

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Poirier said with the high occupancy rate and a particularly large number of children staying at the shelter, that food will probably last around two weeks.

“At the numbers we’re running at right now it’s not going to last us very long so we need to continue asking for assistance,” she said.

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She explained that a large part of their food stock comes from food banks, which are also experiencing shortages.

She has hope the situation may improve as they will soon be able to resume fundraising activities that had largely been put on hold due to pandemic restrictions.

In the meantime, she says her organization is forced to turn people away due to the capacity issues, something she says similar organizations in New Brunswick are also experiencing.

Click to play video: 'Women and children being evicted from temporary shelter at hotel in Halifax'
Women and children being evicted from temporary shelter at hotel in Halifax

“We’re seeing about three or four phone calls per day as opposed to before it was three or four phone calls per week – so just since April we’ve had 2,200 calls. That’s a lot of calls.”

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While she believes there are many factors contributing to higher demand at the shelter, she said the lack of affordable housing was contributing to people staying in the shelter for longer.

While the shelter’s mandate is to provide those in need with a 30-day stay, she said most people are staying for three to six months.

“There’s no longer any affordable housing for these individuals so when they’re trying to find a place to go from the shelter it takes a lot longer so our numbers are kind of hanging tight,” Poirier said.

She still encourages those in need of help to call the shelter, as they can provide help in other ways.

Neither the province’s Social Development or Women’s Equality departments, who both have a hand in funding programs like Crossroads for Women, were able to provide Global News with a comment by publishing deadline.

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.

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