Globe and Mail

Abused women lack housing, jury told

Friday, January 25, 2002 – Print Edition, Page A20
The Globe and Mail

The Ontario government's withdrawal from building social housing has left many abused women in the province with no place to go to escape their abusers, a coroner's inquest was told yesterday.

Lawyers urged the jury looking into the murder of Gillian Hadley by her estranged husband to recommend to the province that it get back into the business of funding social housing.

And at least one lawyer also told the jurors they should recommend that the government reinstate rent controls to make rental housing more affordable. The lawyers were speaking on behalf of the various groups who were party to the inquest.

Their recommendations, contained in closing submissions to the jury, stem from the fact that Ms. Hadley was waiting for subsidized housing in Durham Region, east of Toronto, when she was killed.

The 35-year-old mother of two small children had applied for subsidized housing in March, 2000.

But nothing was available and she was still in the matrimonial home in the town of Pickering when Ralph Hadley broke in on June 20 despite a court restraining order. He dragged her naked outside with their baby, before taking her back inside at gunpoint. He shot her in the head before shooting himself.

The woman's initial screams attracted the attention of neighbours who tried to reason with Mr. Hadley. Their efforts were futile, but they managed to save the child.

Mr. Hadley, a 34-year-old postal worker, had been barred from the home after he was charged with assaulting his wife in January. He had slapped her and had rammed her head against the wall after he had found her with another man. He was released on bail and was told to stay away from the house.

The jury heard conflicting testimony during the inquest about his state of mind. He had been on antidepressant drugs.

The inquest, which began in late October, wraps up today with more submissions before the jury begins its deliberations. The three women and two men do not have to accept any of the more than 100 recommendations presented to them.

The shortage of social housing, women's shelters and second-stage subsidized-housing units was a key issue at the inquest because between 35 and 40 women are killed each year in Ontario by their intimate partners. The figure is 70 women nationwide. About 25 men nationwide are killed by current or former partners each year, the jury was told.

At the time of Ms. Hadley's death, there was no shelter for abused women in her community where she could seek emergency accommodation.

She had applied for second-stage housing, which is reserved for women who are at high risk of being abused again if they remain with their partners. This subsidized housing provides counselling and some measure of physical security where women and their children can stay for three months to a year.

During the inquest, the jury heard that the Ontario government cut off funding for new second-stage housing in 1995. There are 23 such facilities scattered across the province, but the jury was told that services for abused women should be available in every community.

Copyright © 2002 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc.