Hiatus House looks to expand

Hiatus House, a social service agency that helps victims of domestic violence, plans to expand.

Organization has outgrown its space downtown Windsor

Hiatus House executive director Tom Rolfe said the organization has outgrown its current space. (CBC News)

A local social service agency that helps victims of domestic violence plans to expand.

Hiatus House wants to buy a vacant property next to its current location on Louis Avenue in downtown Windsor.

It must appear before the city's planning committee to make it happen.

Hiatus House provides shelter, care and counselling for abused women and children.

The organization said is needs more space for their community programs. Currently, the building on Louis Avenue houses approximately 42 beds as well as counselling and children's programming.

Hiatus House executive director Thomas Rolfe said that in the counselling area of the current building there is sometimes  two or three employees working in an area designed for one.

"We're looking to basically ... free up some of the residential space to do more programming for the women in residence and have some of our community programs across the street," Rolfe said.

Hiatus House has been in the same location for 22 years.

"Back in 1987, we didn't have a number of the programs we have now," Rolfe said.

The shelter now provides help for children and men, too.

"With all of those expansions, we've outgrown the space," Rolfe said.

When it comes to beds, Hiatus House was operating at 95 per cent capacity last summer.

"We have fewer beds than we need. We don't like to operate that high. We were never designed to operate that full," Rolfe said.

'Inconvenience for neighbours'

Parking is also an issue at the current location. Programs at the centre run from Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

There can be close to 50 people parking on the streets of that residential neighbourhood, which makes it difficult for residents to find space to park.

"It's an inconvenience for the neighbours sometimes," Rolfe said.

The plan is to buy the vacant lot next door and build a parking lot  and a three-storey building to move the community programs.

The board of Hiatus House has money to purchase the lot right  now and also build the parking lot. But needs to look for funds to build the new facility.

The Hiatus House's application is before the planning committee. The organization's plan to purchase expires at the end of January.

"We are three to five years away from being able to build anything," Rolfe said.

Rolfe said beds, however, won't be added to the new building. Instead, he said there is a need for more beds in the county .

So if Hiatus does add more beds, it would like to so do it in the county.

"When we look at the population and incidents they will support the fact we need an additional shelter in the county," Rolfe said.

The organization will conduct a needs analysis to address that possibility.