Last year, Hopeful Horizons assisted nearly 1,200 survivors of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault. In April, we focused on our organization’s data around child abuse and sexual assault. This month, we’ll take a look at what Hopeful Horizons has done around sheltering survivors of domestic violence.
If you missed the April blog, take a look here.
Hopeful Horizons’ emergency domestic violence shelter can house a total of 24 women and their children at a time for up to 60 days (male victims and their children are housed off site). In 2018, we provided 170 women and children 4,891 nights of safe shelter. The trend we have seen at our domestic violence shelter over the past few years is that the number of people we sheltered was lower; however, the number of nights of shelter we provided was higher.
In 2018, we broke this trend by showing a 14 percent increase in the number of women and children who stayed in our shelter, as well as a 17 percent increase in the number of bed nights. The average length of stay increased slightly from 28 days to 28.7 days. So, there were more survivors who accessed our shelter and they needed shelter for longer periods of time. Another difference from 2017 is that we did not have to close the shelter for any weather-related issues. Even though the great snow/ice storm of January 2018 closed Beaufort County down for three days, the shelter’s doors had to remain open to provide a safe home for those fleeing domestic violence.
The increasing lengths of stay at the shelter are indicative of larger challenges in our community – namely living-wage employment and affordable housing, both of which are scarce in Beaufort County in particular. Beaufort County has the highest fair market rents in the state (yes, higher than Charleston). Fair market rent for a one-bedroom in Beaufort County is $920, so in order to afford rent (not spend more than 30% of their income on housing), a renter would need to make $17.69 an hour. (Out of Reach 2018, National Low-Income Housing Coalition) The jobs most readily available in our service area usually pay minimum wage. Transportation becomes an issue for folks who try to work in Beaufort County and live in Jasper, Colleton or Hampton county where rent is more affordable.
Hopeful Horizons collaborates with a number of other organizations to try to address these issues on a systemic level, while also providing direct assistance. While in our shelter, clients can access case management services to help link them to resources to gain job skills, seek employment and find housing. We also offer a transitional housing program that provides a rental subsidy for up to 18 months along with case management to help participants start over and get back on their feet. What’s the solution? There’s no one right answer, but we will continue to collaborate with organizations and resource groups in the community to find common ground and identify gaps that we can help close.
We thank you for being a friend to Hopeful Horizons. If you know someone who needs our services, please have them contact us. If you have questions about any of our programs or services – or data – please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.