Local YWCA receives grant to help provide apartments to women, children fleeing violent homes

An Impact 100 grant will give the Richmond YWCA funding to provide private housing for those who need emergency shelter.

The YWCA of Richmond has received a $100,000 grant from Impact 100 to provide private shelter to women and children who flee violent homes. The new grant will allow the local YWCA to provide private apartment residences for those individuals, instead of the community dwellings typically offered.

Here’s the release:

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The YWCA of Richmond is transforming the way it delivers emergency shelter to women and children who are escaping violent homes–providing a broader escape route to hundreds of victims each year–as a result of a $100,000 grant it received from Impact 100.

In partnership with the Better Housing Coalition, the YWCA will be able to place victims in private apartment residences rather than communal settings, effective June 1, 2013.

“Winning this competitive grant means we will be able to reach a new audience of women in need,” said Linda S. Tissiere, Executive Director of the YWCA. “We know there are women right now who don’t have access to safe homes, but who elect not to utilize our housing services because they would never go into a communal shelter. This grant eliminates that concern.”

Effective June 1st, women and their dependent children seeking housing services from the YWCA will not be placed in the YW’s communal shelter in the City that houses up to 30 individuals. Instead, they will move into furnished, private apartments owned and operated by the Better Housing Coalition. The YWCA will continue to provide case management, counseling and access to programs to help its clients on their journey to recovery.

The YWCA opened a communal shelter in 1980 and has served hundreds of woman and children annually since then.

“Over the years, we’ve seen the shelter itself become a barrier to success,” said Rebecca D. Lee, chief program officer for the YWCA. “Private spaces will allow our clients to retain their autonomy, make their own decisions, keep their families together, and sets them up for sustainable success.”

Mary Kay Huss, vice president of asset management for the Better Housing Coalition, said, “A big part of our mission is changing lives, and safe, affordable housing is the platform to stabilize lives and spark the change. We applaud the YWCA’s forward-thinking plan and are proud to serve women in need through this program.”

The shift from communal to private sheltering has been part of the YWCA’s strategic planning for the past three years. Long-term studies and emerging best practices from similar programs in D.C. and on the West Coast supported justification for a new housing model. In 2010, the YWCA initiated the Domestic Violence Housing Model Task Force with other area service providers, survivors, first responders, funders, and housing specialists. The result of that Task Force led the YW to offer and expand transitional housing options, but the growth was slow as funding became available.

“This grant is a game-changer for us,” explained Tissiere. “We knew this was the way our services needed to evolve, and we were always pushing for that change, but we could only move as quickly as funding allowed. Impact 100 has made all the difference.”

Impact 100 is composed of a group of local women who raise $100,000 annually to evaluate several applicant nonprofit organizations and select one of them for a single $100,000 gift.

The 126-year old nonprofit has been the leading provider of services for domestic and sexual violence survivors in Metro Richmond since 1978.

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