Interval House over capacity

News Feb 21, 2018 by Mark Newman Hamilton Mountain News

Interval House has 22 beds for women and their children who have left an abusive relationship.

But the demand for services from the west Mountain shelter is now exceeding the bed limit and there are no signs of it lessening any time soon.

“We are currently overcapacity,” said Interval House executive director Nancy Smith, who noted they get at least 20 crisis calls each day.

"We had 30 (or so) women and kids in our shelter in November.”

No woman is ever turned away. Smith said if there is no bed available, they will set up a cot in one of the bedrooms or let the women sleep on a couch in one of the sitting rooms while they look for a shelter bed for her and, in many cases, for the child or children with her.

There are about 100 women’s shelter beds in Hamilton that are almost always full.

“Last summer, the closest bed we could find for a woman was in London, Ontario,” said Smith.

She said Interval House paid the taxi fare to get her to the shelter.

Interval House spent nearly $5,000 on cab rides for women between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 and nearly $4,100 over the past nine months.

“It’s all about safety,” said Smith, who added they don’t want women standing and waiting for a bus at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.

In addition to offering victims of domestic violence a place to stay, Smith said, staff will work with that person to get her social assistance, a more permanent place to live and develop a school safety plan for her children.

“Women often have to live in poverty when they’ve left an abusive relationship,” said Smith, who noted the average stay at Interval House has jumped from about 18 days to more than 28.

“It’s not helpful for a women and kids to be in a shelter for a long period of time when the intent is short-term.”

She said much of the increase can be blamed on Hamilton’s lack of clean and affordable social housing, plus the time it takes for the woman to begin receiving some form of social assistance.

While she expects the demand for their services to continue increasing, Smith said adding more shelter beds is not the solution.

“What we need is for men to stop abusing women so that women don’t have to be displaced and live in an emergency shelter,” Smith said. “I say men because … predominantly men are the perpetrators of abuse toward women and girls.”

Smith said the perpetrators must be held accountable and more support services are needed.

But the news isn’t all bad.

Smith applauded the efforts of groups and programs like MentorAction and Be More Than A Bystander, where male community leaders and sports teams are actively engaged in pushing for societal change to prevent gender-based violence.

Both began in a meeting room at Interval House.

Interval House has 32 staff, 60 volunteers and a budget of about $2 million, of which $540,000 is made up through fundraising.

Smith said community support is needed to help cover the cost of heat and hydro, building and room improvements and even to cover the cost of taxi fares.

Donors can sponsor a bedroom at Interval House via the Room with a View program and home builders are being sought to support the House of Hope campaign that helps pay for infrastructure matters that are not covered by operating costs.

Hamilton Interval House over capacity

Women’s shelter looking for community support

News Feb 21, 2018 by Mark Newman Hamilton Mountain News

Interval House has 22 beds for women and their children who have left an abusive relationship.

But the demand for services from the west Mountain shelter is now exceeding the bed limit and there are no signs of it lessening any time soon.

“We are currently overcapacity,” said Interval House executive director Nancy Smith, who noted they get at least 20 crisis calls each day.

"We had 30 (or so) women and kids in our shelter in November.”

Last summer, the closest bed we could find for a woman was in London, Ontario. — Nancy Smith

No woman is ever turned away. Smith said if there is no bed available, they will set up a cot in one of the bedrooms or let the women sleep on a couch in one of the sitting rooms while they look for a shelter bed for her and, in many cases, for the child or children with her.

There are about 100 women’s shelter beds in Hamilton that are almost always full.

“Last summer, the closest bed we could find for a woman was in London, Ontario,” said Smith.

She said Interval House paid the taxi fare to get her to the shelter.

Interval House spent nearly $5,000 on cab rides for women between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 and nearly $4,100 over the past nine months.

“It’s all about safety,” said Smith, who added they don’t want women standing and waiting for a bus at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.

In addition to offering victims of domestic violence a place to stay, Smith said, staff will work with that person to get her social assistance, a more permanent place to live and develop a school safety plan for her children.

“Women often have to live in poverty when they’ve left an abusive relationship,” said Smith, who noted the average stay at Interval House has jumped from about 18 days to more than 28.

“It’s not helpful for a women and kids to be in a shelter for a long period of time when the intent is short-term.”

She said much of the increase can be blamed on Hamilton’s lack of clean and affordable social housing, plus the time it takes for the woman to begin receiving some form of social assistance.

While she expects the demand for their services to continue increasing, Smith said adding more shelter beds is not the solution.

“What we need is for men to stop abusing women so that women don’t have to be displaced and live in an emergency shelter,” Smith said. “I say men because … predominantly men are the perpetrators of abuse toward women and girls.”

Smith said the perpetrators must be held accountable and more support services are needed.

But the news isn’t all bad.

Smith applauded the efforts of groups and programs like MentorAction and Be More Than A Bystander, where male community leaders and sports teams are actively engaged in pushing for societal change to prevent gender-based violence.

Both began in a meeting room at Interval House.

Interval House has 32 staff, 60 volunteers and a budget of about $2 million, of which $540,000 is made up through fundraising.

Smith said community support is needed to help cover the cost of heat and hydro, building and room improvements and even to cover the cost of taxi fares.

Donors can sponsor a bedroom at Interval House via the Room with a View program and home builders are being sought to support the House of Hope campaign that helps pay for infrastructure matters that are not covered by operating costs.

Hamilton Interval House over capacity

Women’s shelter looking for community support

News Feb 21, 2018 by Mark Newman Hamilton Mountain News

Interval House has 22 beds for women and their children who have left an abusive relationship.

But the demand for services from the west Mountain shelter is now exceeding the bed limit and there are no signs of it lessening any time soon.

“We are currently overcapacity,” said Interval House executive director Nancy Smith, who noted they get at least 20 crisis calls each day.

"We had 30 (or so) women and kids in our shelter in November.”

Last summer, the closest bed we could find for a woman was in London, Ontario. — Nancy Smith

No woman is ever turned away. Smith said if there is no bed available, they will set up a cot in one of the bedrooms or let the women sleep on a couch in one of the sitting rooms while they look for a shelter bed for her and, in many cases, for the child or children with her.

There are about 100 women’s shelter beds in Hamilton that are almost always full.

“Last summer, the closest bed we could find for a woman was in London, Ontario,” said Smith.

She said Interval House paid the taxi fare to get her to the shelter.

Interval House spent nearly $5,000 on cab rides for women between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 and nearly $4,100 over the past nine months.

“It’s all about safety,” said Smith, who added they don’t want women standing and waiting for a bus at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.

In addition to offering victims of domestic violence a place to stay, Smith said, staff will work with that person to get her social assistance, a more permanent place to live and develop a school safety plan for her children.

“Women often have to live in poverty when they’ve left an abusive relationship,” said Smith, who noted the average stay at Interval House has jumped from about 18 days to more than 28.

“It’s not helpful for a women and kids to be in a shelter for a long period of time when the intent is short-term.”

She said much of the increase can be blamed on Hamilton’s lack of clean and affordable social housing, plus the time it takes for the woman to begin receiving some form of social assistance.

While she expects the demand for their services to continue increasing, Smith said adding more shelter beds is not the solution.

“What we need is for men to stop abusing women so that women don’t have to be displaced and live in an emergency shelter,” Smith said. “I say men because … predominantly men are the perpetrators of abuse toward women and girls.”

Smith said the perpetrators must be held accountable and more support services are needed.

But the news isn’t all bad.

Smith applauded the efforts of groups and programs like MentorAction and Be More Than A Bystander, where male community leaders and sports teams are actively engaged in pushing for societal change to prevent gender-based violence.

Both began in a meeting room at Interval House.

Interval House has 32 staff, 60 volunteers and a budget of about $2 million, of which $540,000 is made up through fundraising.

Smith said community support is needed to help cover the cost of heat and hydro, building and room improvements and even to cover the cost of taxi fares.

Donors can sponsor a bedroom at Interval House via the Room with a View program and home builders are being sought to support the House of Hope campaign that helps pay for infrastructure matters that are not covered by operating costs.