Homeless women on P.E.I. have few options when cold sets in
'For me personally, I'm kind of out of luck when it comes to shelters'
As the cold weather sets in, some homeless women on P.E.I. are struggling to find a warm place to lay their heads.
Hailey Eldershaw says she has been without a home for almost a year, and in winter she finds shelter wherever she can.
"For me personally, I'm kind of out of luck when it comes to shelters," Eldershaw said.
"When it comes down to it and I need sleep, I've crashed in a bank a couple times. It's the only real warm place that I really had to go."
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The only women's homeless shelter in Charlottetown — Grandmother's House — closed in 2012 due to a lack of funding.
There are two women's shelters in Charlottetown, but they cater to women in specific circumstances. Lacey House is for women who are dealing with substance abuse and Anderson House for women and children dealing with violent situations.
Any Island women, however, — regardless of their circumstances — are able to go to Chief Mary Bernard Memorial Shelter on Lennox Island, said shelter worker Stephannie Ellis.
"We have five rooms but sometimes if need be we could double up in rooms but we are pretty accommodating for people," she said. "We are not going to turn anyone away as long as they meet our standard intake when coming."
'It does make a difference'
Ellis said they're seeing a steady flow of women using the shelter's services, even though many may be unaware the shelter offers to arrange transportation.
"I would like to think that more people know that we are here so it does make a difference," she said. "The main thing would be to just call and to know that we are a service that anyone can access."
For homeless men, there is the Bedford Macdonald House in Charlottetown. It's operated by the Salvation Army with some support from the province.
The province doesn't provide shelter for homeless women.
'For people who just need the help'
Eldershaw is hoping more can be done to help homeless women like her.
"Knowledge should be more readily available, easier to find and some programs that aren't stipulation-based, you know, for people who just need the help other than this specific type of person who needs help or that specific type of person," she said.
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With files from Brittany Spencer