WIN House has 60 beds in its emergency shelters, and a second-stage shelter that can accommodate four families, specifically for women who have issues with immigration status or have been human trafficked. There are waiting lists for all of WIN House’s services.
“What we have seen is an incredible increase in the number of calls,” said Allen. “The other part of that is the intensity of the abuse has really increased. More women are reporting if they had stayed that they feared for their lives and children’s lives.”
Allen said WIN House is seeing more layered issues as well, like addiction and mental-health issues.
“Just to get away from one trauma, to unpack one trauma, it’s still a long road ahead for these individuals,” she said.
The current housing crisis, and the shrinking stock of affordable places to live, puts more stress on those suffering gender-based violence. The victim knows the best course of action is to leave the home, but what if a new place to live can’t be found? And what to do with all of one’s belongings?
Shelter Movers, a national charity that helps victims of violence make moves into safer homes, established its Edmonton chapter in September. Shelter Movers works with WIN House and Wings of Providence — these front-line organizations make the requests for their clients, and then Shelter Movers arranges the move.
“There is a great deal of safety planning with the staff at our shelter, with the families,” says Candace Smallwood, director of resources and development for Wings of Providence. “What do they need to bring with them? What’s critical? When are they able to go? Most of the families we support, they’re very low-income. Being able to have this opportunity to have free moves, and knowing that it will be as safe as possible is really, really huge for us.”