In a report to the City of Edmonton's Community Services Committee, the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters says 6,112 women were admitted to shelters in 2011-12, while 4,566 were turned away due to lack of space.
After recently fleeing a violent relationship, a woman CBC will identify as "Mary" was sent to a hotel by social services, a common process when shelters are full.
Mary said she and her two children were close to living on the streets, so accepted the help.
"When you're leaving violence, you don't have a lot of a time frame. It's really pack and run."
Jan Reimer, director of the Council of Women's Shelters, says situations like Mary's demonstrate the need for more shelter spaces.
Reimer said while Edmonton's population has grown exponentially over the years, the number of shelter beds has stayed much the same. Although she emphasized that "shelters will always do whatever they can to keep women safe."
"Sometimes they'll bring women to the shelter just to sit there till they can find a safe place for them to go."
Province seeks longer-term solution
The Ministry of Human Services says while shelters are important as short-term solutions, its long-term approach is to create more affordable housing.
"Shelters are a great resource, and they're somewhere where women and children can be safe," spokesperson Cheryl Tkalcic said.
"But oftentimes, we need to help them move onto a new life as well."
Reimer said while affordable housing is important, it does not help women who need a place to go immediately.
"Mary" was able to find space in a subsidized supportive program, and wants other women to know there is always a way out.
"You start to realize you're not alone."
The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters will present its findings on the lack of shelter space to Edmonton City Council next week.