The executive director of a Hamilton shelter aiding women and children escaping domestic violence says its current 30-plus clients is “exceptionally high” for the resource facility.
Demand has forced Interval House Hamilton to resort to backup spaces in the form of boardrooms, offices and wellness spaces since the the entity normally houses 22 people, with expansion to 28 spaces at the worst of times.
“We have been really overextended through most of COVID and definitely this last … month or so, we’re actually topping 30, which is exceptionally high for us,” Sue Taylor told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton.
“This is a difficult time … and when these days and nights hit, we really work together as a system in Hamilton to try to find safe space for women and children.”
Taylor says long waitlists for shelter spaces recently plaguing the city amid the pandemic is still at play in addition to recent affordability issues across Ontario, including rising rental prices, year over year.
“The waitlist to get into affordable housing is quite long for women,” Taylor suggested.
“So the process itself stalls women’s ability to move out of the shelter system in an efficient way, and that really creates a backlog.”
Despite receiving some provincial funding, recent inflation and the extra occupants has thrown off segments of the shelters annual budget, particularly with food purchases.
Staffing is also in short supply, prompted by the onset of the COVID pandemic, with spare support staff now taking shifts ranging from food prep to answering phones.
A potential light at the end of the tunnel is the stepping up of recent monetary donations from the community, according to Taylor.
“We’re working with Shoppers Drug Mart right now with their ‘Love You’ campaign, and all the dollars raised from that will go directly to supporting our women in shelter,” said Taylor.
Interval House opened its doors in 1986 and serves women 16 years and older with or without children fleeing relationship abuse.
They offer an array of counselling and legal advocacy services in addition to short-term accommodations.