Dozens of women, children turned away from Hiatus House amid bed crisis

When victims of abuse need help in Windsor, they can turn to Hiatus House. But Hiatus House is now having to turn victims away. The shelter has a capacity crisis. It has 42 beds, and for months now those beds have been full every night.

118 women and 105 children have been turned away since January

Hiatus House, which provides help to victims of abuse in Windsor, has no choice but to turn a lot of them away.

Since January, 118 women and 105 children have been turned away, said Thom Rolfe, executive director of Hiatus House.

"We don't get in the business of helping people to be able to say no to them," said Rolfe. "We keep in constant touch with them and we keep directing them to other services we have, but we're still admitting women in high risk situations and finding room for them."

Hear more from Thom Wolfe on Windsor Morning.

Capacity crisis: A Windsor shelter is being forced to turn women away because demand is outstripping available beds. 6:43

Staff at the shelter let victims know that they can call back anytime if their situation gets worse, said Rolfe, and they will admit that person and transfer them somewhere else in the province if necessary. The shelter is constantly monitoring all victims that approach Hiatus House for services and had the tough job of assessing which situations are most dangerous. 

That's really our biggest fear, that we could make a mistake on that assessment and it could be deadly.- Thom Rolfe, Executive Director of Hiatus House.

"We typically have two to three what we call high risk security situations," said Rolfe. "That's really our biggest fear, that we could make a mistake on that assessment and it could be deadly."

The shelter has 42 beds, and for months now those beds have been full every night. Rolfe said they've "found space" for five extra beds, bringing that number to 47, but it's still not enough. 

"I think women now are coming forward because they feel like people will believe them," said Rolfe. "It's a really difficult time for our staff — it's not easy to say no to someone who's taken a risk."

Rolfe said this crisis is being seen across the province, as managing costs get higher and funding stays the same. He said it's hard to cut any more corners. 

"We're under capacity in a  lot of communities," he said. "Because of housing crisis, women staying in shelters longer."