Women escaping violence need more shelter space, advocates say
Lack of affordable housing in Calgary also forcing women to stay in shelters longer
People who run shelters for women in Calgary say more needs to be done to house those escaping domestic violence.
Some women and their children are even being turned away because facilities are simply too full, said YWCA Calgary director of external relations Elsbeth Mehrer.
“YWCA Sheriff King Home is always full,” she said, noting the number of shelter spaces in Calgary hasn’t kept up with the city’s booming population.
A low vacancy rate out in the community adds to the problem, Mehrer said. The lack of housing means women are still living in shelters even when they are ready to move somewhere else.
Women are staying 20 per cent longer at emergency shelters this year compared to last, according to the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters.
"They're ending up having to make some impossible choices ... between staying in violent relationships and effectively being homeless because they can’t find places to rent that they can afford,” Mehrer said.
Brigitte Baradoy, executive director of Discovery House Family Violence Prevention Society, said shelters aren't the best option for every case.
“Other women feel like they can make it in the community, as long as they have a lock or an intercom system, they can make it in market housing,” she said.
“So every woman is going to need different needs, and that’s why it’s so important that in Calgary we have options for them to access.”
Baradoy said both subsidized housing, and individual landlords, need to be a part of the solution.
The province did earmark an additional $19 million in this year's budget to house roughly 2,000 Albertans currently without a place to live. There will also be 3,200 additional emergency and transitional shelter spaces added this year, but locations have not been designated yet.