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New initiative looks to provide more housing for domestic abuse survivors

New initiative looks to provide more housing from domestic abuse survivors
Posted at 10:31 PM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-14 22:51:44-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A new partnership program hopes to help domestic abuse survivors with transitional housing.

It’s called “Safe Transitions."

Safe Haven Ministries created the initiative in collaboration with Madison Church and A.Y.A Youth Collective after they heard survivors ask for more long-term support over the past few years.

“For a lot of people, housing is a critical need,” said Rachel Verwys, Safe Haven Ministries executive director. “When you add the vulnerability of experiencing violence in your life that can make it even harder to find that safe housing because of the nuances of abuse and manipulative factors.”

“Credit scores can be ruined and leaving a place and starting over can be a huge burden,” added Verwys.

“Anyone who has experienced a crisis or trauma can relate to how the human brain goes into a survival mode and all goals and aspirations are set aside,” said Crystal Kitten, A.Y.A Youth Collective director of housing. “It is extremely difficult for a person who is experiencing instability to transition into stability without strong support and connection to resources.”

Currently, Safe Haven offers emergency shelter, which serves up to 14 individuals or families at a time.

In 2021, the organization helped 79 households with the shelter. The average length of stay was 54 days.

Under Safe Transitions, survivors, who are no longer in imminent danger but still need help, have the chance to live somewhere for up to two years.

They would also be able to engage further in support services, including case management, support groups for youth and adults, and connections to community resources.

“It’s an opportunity to extend a longer housing opportunity for someone to work on their own goals and reach economic stability and continue to be supported by an advocate,” said Verwys.

According to Verwys, two families will be housed at a home given by Madison Church.

“Madison Church is grateful to be partnering with Safe Haven Ministries in the Safe Transitions Project, and for the impact we know that this initiative will have in our community for years to come,” said Joanna DeMoor-Tannor, Madison Church executive director.

Safe Haven will work with A.Y.A Youth to house five individuals ages 18 to 24.

“Our hope is that all of the youth we have the opportunity to work with through the Safe Transitions initiative will experience authentic relationships, safe and stable housing, and feel a true sense of belonging, as they are known, accepted, and celebrated as they are,” said Kitten.

Flexible rental assistance and savings plans will be available for the individuals and families.

“We’re looking at safety factors and then next steps of planning that align with the survivor’s goals and what’s the best step for them and the range of resources that are available in the community,” said Verwys.

Safe Transitions hopes to welcome people home by late summer.

To donate to the program, click here.

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