New YWCA re-housing program aims to help domestic violence victims find homes

Individuals experiencing homelessness due to domestic violence now have help available through Liberty House’s new Rapid Re-Housing Program, which is an expanded service of the YWCA Northcentral PA.

Since it began, the YWCA has been able to house 21 individuals and families, according to a press release.

Rapid Re-Housing is an initiative funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The aim is to place individuals experiencing homelessness due to fleeing domestic violence in a safe residence they call their own, according to Megan Bloom, development and program marketing specialist at the YWCA.

Clients participating in the program receive financial assistance with the goal of achieving self-sufficiency in a home free of harm, she said.

The financial assistance provided is based on individual need and fund availability.

“This new resource gives us the opportunity to stop the cycle of domestic violence and homelessness in the community,” said Jernae Drummond, housing services supervisor.

One aspect of the program entails case managers working with clients to teach budgeting and help them work through the abuse they have recently escaped.

Many survivors of domestic violence experience financial abuse with the abuser being in control of the money and bank accounts, leaving the victim with little or no money of their own, Bloom said.

“Financial abuse is a reason some people stay in their relationships,” said Drummond. “They try to leave but are not financially stable without their abuser, so the survivor will go back to them.”

Liberty House and Wise Options staff work together to assist individuals and families in these circumstances obtain housing.

Anyone interested in the Rapid Re-Housing Program must call Coordinated Entry at 211 as the first step in determining eligibility, the press release said.

If the requirements for the program are met, YWCA case managers will assist with the housing search and coordinate with landlords.

Once a new home is chosen, the grant from HUD funds the security deposit and the first month’s rent.

Throughout the entire process the client is provided counseling and assistance to rebuild their lives, Bloom said.

The YWCA encourages anyone experiencing domestic violence or who knows of someone else in such a situation to call the confidential 24/7 Wise Options hotline at 1-800-326-8483.