We recently asked the Hopeful Horizons team to answer this question:
If you had a magic wand, how would you use it at Hopeful Horizons?
These answers say a lot about what’s happening in human services in the Lowcountry and speak to the critical needs of victims/survivors of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault. We’ve chosen a few wishes to share with you.
The overwhelming critical need:
1. Increase affordable housing options
It’s no surprise that Beaufort County and the surrounding counties have very limited affordable housing. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a number of properties that were more affordable increase their rents. The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual Out of Reach report shows that Beaufort County typically has one of the highest fair market rents in the state. According to their 2022 report, fair market rent for a two bedroom was $1,253, an increase of more than 22% from 2020. Additionally, due to demand in the area, many rentals are commanding prices well above fair market rates. In order to be able to afford a two-bedroom unit in Beaufort County, an individual must make at least $24.10 an hour, working 40 hours per week, or work 133 hours per week for the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
Even though Hopeful Horizons’ transitional housing program has expanded significantly over the past two years, we continue to struggle to help survivors find affordable housing. We would love to have a magic wand to create more safe, affordable housing options for survivors - and the community at large. Of course, the other key to this issue is the availability of living wage employment. Hopeful Horizons is committed to being at the table with Beaufort County and other community partners to be a voice for victims and survivors and find solutions.
Next on the list…
Transportation goes hand in hand with affordable housing – and employment. Without one, the need for the other grows. Without either, well, that’s what we’re facing in Beaufort County and the surrounding counties, particularly with so many employees traveling a distance to get to their jobs. Transportation has been at the top of the list of identified needs among human service professionals in the area for over 20 years and I’m not sure that we’re any closer to a solution. The geography of the Lowcountry is beautiful, but all the water also makes transportation even more of a challenge. Additionally, the area is lacking the population density to support a robust public transit system. Some employers and human service organizations have come up with creative solutions to try to address the transportation issue, but it’s still not enough. Hopeful Horizons is able to provide some limited transportation primarily for residents of our domestic violence shelter, but that’s also not enough.
Lack of reliable transportation not only limits access to housing and employment, but it can also create a barrier to receiving services like counseling/therapy with Hopeful Horizons and many other things that families desperately need to do – like grocery shopping, attending medical appointments, going to court hearings, etc. Fortunately, Hopeful Horizons can provide counseling/therapy via tele-health, which helps remove the transportation barrier for some individuals and families. We’re not sure what the solution is, but that’s why we need the magic wand.
3. Help more kids
What does it mean when a child is acting out sexually in an inappropriate way? The sexual behaviors of children usually take place when a child feels anxious or angry, is reacting to a traumatic experience, is overly curious after seeing sexual materials, is seeking attention, is trying to imitate others, or is merely trying to calm him or herself.
According to the National Center on the Sexual Behavior of Youth, “Sometimes…the sexual behaviors of children are more than a result of harmless curiosity. At times the sexual behavior of children becomes harmful to themselves and to other children. A child displaying the sexual behavior as well as any other children who might have been witness to it, or who might have been involved, may be harmed by such behavior,” said the NCSBY.
Research shows that certain therapeutic models are effective in changing these behaviors and treating the trauma early before it has a life-long impact. Hopeful Horizons’ sees the need for this treatment option in our community and is making plans to respond to this need. Treatment for youth with problematic sexual behaviors (PSBs) helps the child learn healthy boundaries, improve coping skills and eliminates or reduces the behavior.
Hopeful Horizons’ national accrediting body, the National Children’s Alliance, says the process of identifying and responding to problematic sexual behaviors (PSBs) among youth and children is often fragmented and inconsistent across the country. Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) are leaders in supporting families impacted by child abuse through coordinated multidisciplinary response and care. This uniquely qualifies CACs like Hopeful Horizons to coordinate effective interventions for this population.
4. Affordable, flexible childcare
When an adult victim/survivor is meeting with a Hopeful Horizons therapist, staying in our domestic violence shelter and looking for work, or meeting with our legal team to work on custody agreements, divorce agreements or to obtain an Order of Protection, it’s a serious matter and not usually an appropriate environment for children. Typically, children are not allowed in court. More affordable and accessible childcare would make life easier on victims/survivors who do not have other childcare options.
5. The ability to reach even the most inaccessible of places
The Hopeful Horizons team recognizes that we are not reaching everyone in the five counties we serve, but we strive to bring awareness of the services we offer to everyone in our service area who needs it. In the words of one of our advocates, “it is amazing to see how many people reach out for help. The work is never done.”
The last, but not least, magic wand wish…
…more unrestricted funding opportunities. Hopeful Horizons is fortunate to have funding for specific programs and services, but there is still a need for additional unrestricted funding that would allow Hopeful Horizons to adjust to immediate needs and a changing economic climate. General operating support means that we can pay for:
Rent and utilities at our offices - where clients receive services
Our annual audit, because we want to be fiscally responsible and transparent; and it’s a requirement for many grants
Trainings to maintain fidelity to evidence-based models and to keep up with emerging trends and best practices.
Technology upgrades so that staff have working laptops and our offices have adequate security, wireless connections and equipment
Salaries that aren’t funded 100% by grants
Thank you for reading our wishes and understanding the challenges facing survivors of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault. We are grateful you are part of the Hopeful Horizons community – and are thankful for your support year-round.
What else can YOU do to help?
Share Hopeful Horizons’ information with someone who might need our services.
Share this blog on your social media.
Invite us to speak at your next staff meeting, church group meeting, neighborhood club meeting, etc.