Surge in applications for women’s supportive housing, shelter space still available

Surge in applications for women's supportive housing, shelter space still available
WatchAs people stay at home, concerns about women in abusive relationships continue to grow. The risk for domestic violence is increasing, but the calls for help aren't. Jasmine Bala has more on what this means and what kind of help is available.

Transition houses in Victoria haven’t seen that uptick in calls from women looking for immediate emergency shelter from domestic violence, but some of them have seen an increase in other calls for help.

The Cridge Centre for the Family saw a 40 per cent increase in applications for their supportive housing program in March and they have no more spaces available for long-term housing.

“In terms of the housing, we don’t have vacancies right now,” said Candace Stretch, manager of the Cridge’s supportive housing and family services.

“But in terms of our ability through our transition house to support women and potentially bring them into our shelter, we have a lot of capacity in that area.”

Stretch noted the shelters have had an “eerie quietness” about them, which is unusual considering the current public health situation.

“It’s always concerning when there’s a crisis like this happening and you feel you’re not getting the increased calls you would expect,” she said, adding that it isn’t because women are not experiencing violence at home.

“I think it’s very likely that women are experiencing increased risk of violence due to this pandemic,” Stretch said.

That’s because women who are experiencing domestic violence are staying at home to protect themselves from COVID-19, just like everyone else. These women are often living with their abusers.

“We think that probably what’s happening is that women are isolating in the home with their children and potentially their abuser,” explained Susan Howard, development director at the Victoria Women’s Transition House Society. “So they don’t have a lot of privacy and they’re not able to really reach out and come forward.”

However, Howard added, help is still available to those who need it.

“We want to let these women know that help is available and that our counselling staff is available via the phone as well as our shelter services. So we do have room in our shelter right now,” she said.

Measures like increased sanitation and physical distancing have been put in place at both shelters to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19.

“We really do have the capacity to help,” Stretch said.

The Victoria Women’s Transition House’s 24-hour crisis and information line is 250-385-6611. The Cridge Transition House can be reached anytime at 250-479-3963.

Jasmine BalaJasmine Bala

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