Abuse victims face longer waits for shelter

“We’ve been told that there’s about a three-per-cent vacancy rate but we have some information our homeless initiative sources have that tell us it’s more like 0.3 per cent,” said Morrison. “It’s almost zero actually.”

— Abuse victims face longer waits for shelter

“Overflowing women’s shelters and long waiting lists for transition housing in Nova Scotia are forcing domestic abuse victims to seek help elsewhere.

As shelters across Nova Scotia struggle to cope with a backlog of clients in need of help, the issue is becoming a political hot potato….


…At the Cape Breton Transition House in Sydney, shelter staff fielded 90 distress calls in April and accepted 19 clients, including 17 women and two children. In April 2011 the shelter took in 11 clients, but month-to-month figures typically move up and down.

Its executive director, Helen Morrison, said that many clients are facing multiple challenges, including addictions, mental health conditions, or a need for counselling. She said that resources and services to help these people were often non-existent in rural communities.

“The other reason our shelters have been strained the last few years is the fact that income assistance has not increased for the women we serve,” said Morrison, who also co-chairs the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia (THANS).

Stagnating income assistance has combined with rising rents — meaning that many women and children using shelters like Morrison’s are housing insecure — and wait lists for affordable accommodation just keep growing.

According to Morrison, anyone in Sydney in need of housing typically waited a maximum of four to six months five years ago. Today, housing wait times can be up to two years.”


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