SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A shelter for families fleeing domestic violence has reached capacity for the first time at its new location.
Harmony House moved into a bigger home in February but has already turned people away. During the first three weeks of September, Harmony House had to tell victims it didn’t have enough room for them.
The new home has 168 beds, but true capacity is about 140 people. Executive Director Lisa Farmer says that’s because once a family of two or three is placed in a room with four beds, no strangers are put in that room with them.
Today the agency sees more kids in-shelter than adults and that’s because they are seeing more families coming into the shelter, which Farmer says is a good thing. The average length of stay is around 45 days.
Farmer says reaching capacity is something that came sooner than they thought.
“And it’s a horrible feeling to have to tell this person who’s made the decision to leave, which is a very brave decision because they are the highest risk for injury or death when they decide to leave. And an advocate has to say ‘I’m so sorry, we don’t have a bed for you,” said Farmer.
When Harmony House reaches capacity, victims are referred to The Kitchen, Safe to Sleep and Isabel’s House. They’re also told to keep calling, as the number of people in-shelter changes every day.
But Farmer says the real solution is prevention and educating boys and girls early on about healthy relationships.