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Domestic violence shelters running out of room to house families

Last year, Harmony House was forced to turn more than 700 domestic violence victims away -- the facility holds 110 families, and staff members say they're full all year.

October 01, 2012|by Sheena Elzie, KSPR News | selzie@kspr.com

The observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October brings up a growing problem at local shelters.

More victims are coming in for help, but there's not enough space to help at shelters such as Harmony House.

Harmony House is one of the largest shelters in the state for domestic violence victims, and even there room comes at a premium.

Last year, Harmony House was forced to turn more than 700 domestic violence victims away -- the facility holds 110 families, and staff members say they're full all year.

The nonprofit group helped provide food, clothing, shelter and resources for more than 550 abused families that went through the shelter last year...but staff members say they would need double the amount of space to help all of the families on their growing waiting list.

They say they are considering ways to add more space, but right now staff members say they have to tell the 700-plus that get turned away to find another place for help.

"While there always have been some people being turned away, this is a record high number for us, and that's part of a statewide problem as well," Harmony House Executive Director Rodney Dwyer says. "It's the need for domestic violence services as people are seeking the services, the resources have not been increasing at the same pace."

Staff members say the increased need for services is a sad reminder of the domestic violence problem. That's why tonight they're doing something about it.

Harmony House is holding a Night of Unity in Springfield, which will take place at 6 p.m. this evening at the Gillioz Theatre on Park Central East.

The public can see a play about domestic violence, and the group will pay tribute to victims and survivors of domestic violence through a candlelight vigil.

Harmony House's Night of Unity is also a part of the National Day of Unity, paying tribute to domestic violence victims through the month of October.

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