Anyone in an abusive relationship who needs help can call or text Safe Haven Ministries anytime at 616.452.6664.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A federal grant is helping expand a program in Grand Rapids provide housing to victims of domestic abuse.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently awarded a $500,000 grant to support the Safe Transitions program. Rachel VerWys, the CEO of domestic abuse outreach and shelter nonprofit Safe Haven Ministries, said the program has already helped West Michigan families.
“A year ago, we opened a duplex in partnership with a church and we’re able to provide safe, stable housing for two families through that,” VerWys said. “And then we needed to look at how could we secure more resources as a community towards this.”
Finding housing can sometimes seem like an impossible task and it can be even more difficult for people fleeing an abusive relationship.
“They have not been given access to bank accounts or their credit has been destroyed by the abuser or an eviction happened because of the manipulative relationship that they were in,” VerWys listed.
Safe Haven Ministries said more than 60% of women experiencing homeless across the country have encountered domestic violence.
“We listen to survivors that we work with. We heard their interviews. We are exiting them out of shelter and recognize that over 50% of our own clients were exiting to unstable housing,” VerWys said. “Over the next year, we hope to see at least 20 different units of housing contribute to the solution.”
ICCF Community Homes has partnered to renovate a home into a three-unit apartment.
It is a process that has taken many years, according to Michelle Covington, the vice president of advancement for ICCF Community Homes.
“We had to start with the windows and because it is a historic home, they had to be a particular type of window,” Covington said.
The home built in 1887 needed a complete renovation including new electrical, appliances and bathrooms. ICCF said all the work is worth it.
“To know that we’re gonna help a family, a young family, a woman with small children, that makes it all the more reason why we do this work,” Covington said.
The program has seen success so far and Safe Haven is hopeful it can expand even more.
“When you have stable housing, your whole being increases in wellness,” VerWys said.