HERSthe Haliburton Emergency Rural SafeSpace in Minden needs a differentoperating model and more money if it is to continue offering itsservices.
JenniferCureton director of philanthropy and communications for YWCAPeterborough Haliburton visited Haliburton County councillors duringtheir Jan. 24 meeting to update them on a sustainability study on thefacility that the organization undertook last year.
HERSis a safe haven for women and children fleeing domestic abuse. Thefacility was closed from November of 2015 through March 2016 due tousage outpacing financial resources and subsequently the YWCAlaunched a fundraising campaign seeking to raise $120000 to helpkeep the space open for two years and conduct the study.
“ Therewere a couple of key findings” Cureton said. “The first is thatthe service we provide in Haliburton County is vital.”
In2016 the organization helped 124 individual women in HaliburtonCounty fielding more than 1200 crisis calls and conducting some 670outreach counsel sessions. Cureton told councillors that demand hascontinued to grow.
Anotherfinding of the study is that the service has to change or beenhanced.
“ TheHaliburton services without significant changes are unsustainable”Cureton said. “So that last point is something that we’ve beensort of grappling with and trying to wrap our heads around.”
Theorganization has been in touch with the Ministry of Community andSocial Services which is its main funder.
“ Theyare committed to not letting us close” Cureton told council.“That’s important for you all to know; it’s important for us toknow.”
Possibleservice model changes will require feasibility studies. One would bechanging HERS from a safe space – it’s open on an as-needed basisand provides living space for two women and their children – to a24-hour-a-day shelter. Another option the YWCA is investigating is tochange the facility to limited time housing with arent-geared-to-income system.
Curetonpointed out that providing services in rural areas is more expensivebecause a sparse population is spread out meaning counsellors haveto drive long distances to see clients.
Evenwith ongoing fundraising – Haliburton County gave the YWCA a grantof $25000 over two years during its 2016 fundraising campaign –there is a projected deficit for the current fiscal year or $26000.
Thereis a projected deficit of nearly $135000 for the next fiscal year.
“ Inthe meantime we have received a little bit of additional fundingfrom the ministry to keep going” Cureton said. “I know that’snot a lot of answers for you today but that’s where we stand andthat’s what we’re working on.”
“ Theelephant in the room is base funding and it continues to be basefunding” said Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin indicating theministry needs to provide more money.
MindenHills Deputy Mayor Cheryl Murdoch told her to return to council ifthe situation got desperate and that never again should the facilitybe shut down.
“ Thisis a great service to our area it’s definitely needed” Murdochsaid. “If you get critical you need to come to this council andthe four municipal councils. That should not happen again.”