Homeless support services seeing impact of women's shelter closure in Saskatoon
Mumford House closed last April after 9 years providing emergency shelter for women and children
Workers whose job is to support homeless women in Saskatoon say the closure of Mumford House earlier this year has left a "hole that hasn't been filled," making it harder for vulnerable people to find appropriate shelter.
The 36-bed facility, run by the Salvation Army, closed in April after nine years of providing a temporary home for women and children.
Shaun Dyck, the executive director of the Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership, said some parents staying in shelters have had to put their children in a crisis nursery.
"It's never a good idea to break up a family unit, and the loss of Mumford House is definitely a hit to the community," said Dyck.
Funding shortfalls were blamed for the closure at the time, although the Salvation Army itself said there were many factors.
With no other walk-in shelter for women with children in Saskatoon — others require referrals — the Ministry of Social Services is now housing homeless women in hotels while they look for long-term accommodation.
"It's important for everyone to know that there is no gap in service and that if they need to, they can come to the ministry for help," a social services spokesperson said in a written response to questions.
The spokesperson said 22 women have been housed in hotels since the shelter closed at the end of April. Fathers and couples with children have always been placed at hotels.
Eighteen of those women have accessed long-term housing after a short-term stay at a hotel, and another four are currently in hotels. The ministry said those that are still in emergency accommodation came to the ministry for help between Oct. 3 and 7.
It said the average hotel stay is between three and four days.
Jonna Reaume, a social worker and assistant director at the Elizabeth Fry Society of Saskatchewan, said the women she works with have been affected.
The society helps make sure women who have been in jail have transportation and a place to stay when they leave custody.
"We've noticed that we just have difficulty getting women into emergency transitional beds, so that really is a hole that hasn't been filled yet. And we've been feeling that," said Reaume.
She said some women have stayed at the Lighthouse Supported Living emergency shelter, which she said is not an ideal place for women to go.
Dyck said there are efforts by not-for-profit groups to establish another women's and family-friendly shelter as quickly as possible.
"These things take time, and we're doing what we can," he said.