EMC News Coverage – Lanark County Interval House struggles with projected financial short fall



EMC News – Municipalities across Lanark County are being asked to join Lanark County Interval House (LCIH) in their efforts to address a funding crisis that could jeopardize the only area emergency shelter for women and their children.

“We are in a situation,” added Erin-Lee Todd, LCIH executive director. “We’re not seeing a growing increase that’s equitable from our funders.”

The issue is a projected $59,000 budget deficit for this year when the ministry isn’t expected to provide any funding increases for at least the next five years (and hasn’t for the last three years).

While facing such enormous financial gaps the operators of LCIH are also looking at increased wait times and an ever-growing demand on their many services, particularly with the strain from the economic crunch and job loss.

“We’re seeing an increased rate of first time occurrences,” Todd said.

Last year the 24/7 crisis line received over 2,200 emergency calls of which 15 per cent were from Smiths Falls and 29 per cent from Carleton Place.

Todd made her first of many presentations to Smiths Falls Committee of the Whole this week (Sept. 10). Before a Lanark County Committee meeting takes place Oct. 10. Todd plans to speak to every municipality in the county to ask them to either approve an annual budget line item for interval house or pass a motion for the same at the county level.

“We’re asking all municipalities to consider what they can do,” Todd said.

The non-profit organization is proposing $5,000 a year from the major towns (Smiths Falls, Perth, Carleton Place, Mississippi Mills) and $3,000 from the remaining townships who receive support from interval house for a possible total of $35,000. Smiths Falls mayor Dennis Staples thanked Todd for her presentation, confirming his attendance at the upcoming county meeting.

“I look forward to hearing your presentation on the 10th and seeing what can happen at the county level,” mayor Staples said.

Todd is also asking politicians to lobby for increased funding from the ministry to ensure places like Lanark County Interval House remain open. Battered women will feel the slice of budget cuts in more ways than through LCIH. Beginning Jan. 1, 2013 the Community Start Up fund that provided $1,499 to women who were starting their lives over again due to abuse will be canceled.

“There are some rough times ahead for women who are fleeing,” Todd said.

LCIH is the only service of its kind in Lanark County. For the last 33-years Interval House has been offering a variety of services to women and children fleeing abusive environments. In addition to their 24/7 emergency hotline and 15-bed shelter, the organization also provides education and prevention, transitional support and advocacy.

“We take every opportunity we can to get into the schools,” Todd said.

The executive director is passionate about continuing the service for as long as possible to move forward the organization’s overall goal to end violence. Lanark County isn’t immune to this violence turning deadly. Since 1985 11 women and one young girl have been murdered by their abuser.

Anyone wishing to support Lanark County Interval House is asked to contact their local politicians or MPP Randy Hillier at 613-267-8239. Todd noted MPP Hillier has personally met shelter residents on two-to-three occasions and is well aware of their situation.