Nellie’s, a women’s shelter in Toronto’s east end, recently faced a rare emergency shortage of diapers and baby wipes.
Amid Toronto’s housing crisis one small local shelter is reporting it’s struggling to accommodate an unprecedented number of toddlers.
Nellie’s, a women’s shelter in Toronto’s east end, recently faced a rare emergency shortage of diapers and baby wipes after realizing 14 out of its 36 beds were occupied by children, many of them still toddlers. The shelter historically caters to single women.
“In the history of this organization we have never had such a big number of children,” said Margarita Mendez, Nellie’s executive director. “We don’t have proper space for children, we don’t have the budget to have permanent child care workers, so this situation has really caught us off guard.”
Mendez said many women coming into shelters across the city say they’re fleeing family violence and abuse during pregnancy or after birth. Other women report finding it very hard to afford rental housing, especially those with precarious employment or those still navigating the immigration process.
In an outpouring of support, the shelter received “hundreds” of boxes of diapers over the last week after a call went out for supplies.
Mendez said the shelter is now asking the public to donate directly to it in order to be able to use the funds for other pressing issues.
“All the women and children in this very small space, it’s making the living conditions very difficult,” she said, noting the shelter needs more staff and more food supply to care for its population.
“We’re supposed to be an emergency shelter for women facing violence, but now, the more children and women we receive, the more difficult it becomes to care for them.”