The Barrie Women and Children’s Shelter is looking to combat the increasing demand for its resources with a new second-stage housing project.
The shelter has launched the third phase of its Shelter Me Campaign to purchase a duplex or triplex to help women transition out of the shelter.
Due to inflation and the increasing cost of housing, the shelter says women in need must stay longer, with the number of those needing help rising.
The shelter can house 27 people at a time, but staff say that, due to demand, there are usually between 30 to 35 women and children at a time.
On average, staff say they help between 1,400 to 1,500 people a year and have to turn away anywhere from 500 to 600.
“That’s been directly related pretty much to the pandemic,” says the shelter’s community development manager Deb James. “Numbers have gone up, we’ve seen more immigrant women moving into the area, and we’re seeing them coming into the shelter as well.”
“Our numbers are up dramatically over the last number of years. So what’s happening is that those beds are dedicated for a crisis situation.”
Before the pandemic, women and children would typically stay around six weeks before moving to more permanent housing options, but James says due to inflation and high housing prices, women are now staying closer to four to six months.
“There’s a lot of nights that we get the phone calls, and we don’t have the rooms. We don’t have the ability to bring a woman in or her kids,” James says.
“We need those beds to be open. We need to be able to continue the level of support. For 42 years, we’ve been helping women and children escape violence, and we need to be able to continue to do that.”
During the pandemic, the shelter purchased its first transitional housing with a shared living space for individuals. James says they hope this next purchase will have apartments for families.
The shelter is making a public request to local businesses and individuals looking to help them with this next initiative.
Anyone looking to support the Shelter Me Campaign can find more details here.