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CT Domestic-Violence Shelters Overflowing

Domestic-violence shelter usage in Connecticut has doubled since 2008. (CMY Kane/flickr.com)
Domestic-violence shelter usage in Connecticut has doubled since 2008. (CMY Kane/flickr.com)
February 11, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. - Connecticut's domestic-violence shelters are consistently full, according to a report released Tuesday.

Karen Jarmoc, CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, says since 2008, the number of women and children seeking shelter from domestic violence has doubled. On average, shelters in the state are at 114 percent of capacity.

"So what that means is, shelters are more than full all the time with victims of domestic violence and their children," says Jarmoc. "And victims and their children are staying longer."

She says the average stay in a domestic-violence shelter has increased from 26 days eight years ago to 43 days in 2015.

While the longer stays are a significant factor in the shelters operating at above their capacity, Jarmoc points to other causes as well, including a lack of affordable, transitional housing.

"And victims are coming to our organizations with really significant challenges around trauma and mental health, and substance use, and those take some time to sift through as well," she says.

Other factors include increased outreach, such as the addition of a Spanish-language hotline for victims.

Despite the overcrowding, the coalition is not calling for additional state funding. But Jarmoc is concerned that a budget based on block grants to state agencies, with a call for across-the-board spending cuts, could jeopardize services that already are stretched thin.

"What would be wise is to have some security around the funding we receive," Jarmoc says. "So, we're looking to be held harmless in terms of reductions or rescissions."

She points out that, while the demand for domestic violence services has grown, state funding has not increased since 2009.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT