Escaping domestic violence takes a lot of courage and forethought, especially when someone wonders where they can safely go and afford.
A rapid rehousing program aims to take this dilemma out of the equation by providing rental assistance.
The program is managed by the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) and funded by the Connecticut Department of Housing. It will subsidize rent for victims of domestic violence for up to two years.
Home is meant to be a place of refuge, but for thousands of people across the state, their home is a place where they are not safe.
“You’re put in a position where you’re too scared to leave, but staying is just as scary,” said Mary Keegan, who is on the rental assistance program.
This was the case of two Connecticut women who said they experienced domestic violence, including Keegan.
“Financial abuse, mental abuse. I didn’t have my life, you know, I didn’t have any autonomy,” Keegan said.
The other, Christina, no longer wants to be identified for security reasons.
“It was verbal abuse. We had one where he hit me and the cops came. But it was mostly like, ‘You can’t survive on your own,'” Christina said. about his relationship with her. ex-husband.
The two mums made the difficult decision to take their children and leave.
“I was actually going to try to go to a shelter, but they were all booked due to COVID-19,” Christina said. “I just didn’t know where to turn.”
Keegan felt a similar struggle deciding to seek his own home away from his partner.
“I had a really good job, but I didn’t have the funds to put in thousands of dollars to get into an apartment,” she said.
Christina went through the courts and Keegan contacted an advocacy organization called Secure Futures. Both women were connected to the Rapid Re-Housing program.
“The goal of the program is to provide victims with housing solutions, whether that means staying in their apartment or house or finding a newer, safer place for themselves,” the president said. and CEO of CCADV, Meghan Scanlon.
The CCADV program is funded by grants from the State Department of Housing. Currently, the coalition works with eight advocacy organizations across Connecticut, and there is a housing advocate at each site.
Scanlon said there are plans to expand the program to have 18 full-time housing advocates.
She said that after the Rapid Rehousing program launched in 2019, a rise in domestic violence caused by the pandemic made it crucial.
“The combination of violence, rising rental costs and lack of housing has made all of these things very difficult. So it was a critical time to be able to use the Rapid Re-Housing program,” Scanlon said.
To CT secure connectionThe state’s domestic violence hotline, Advocacy Coordinator Dynalee Dones, is often the first link in the chain connecting victims to a housing advocate.
“A lot of them, because of all the abuse, are becoming homeless or are in crisis of being homeless right now,” Dones said.
Whether by phone, SMS, email or chat, more than 20,000 people contacted the hotline in 2021.
Last year, 705 people used the Rapid Re-Housing program. This included 281 adults and 424 children. In the end, 310 people moved on to financial and housing autonomy.
A place of their own would give anyone a sense of stability.
“Everything I have here, like the coffee maker, the toaster, the silverware, everything I have is from the program,” Keegan said of her apartment.
This stability is even more important for someone leaving behind a home where they felt unsafe.
“It sounds really scary,” Christina said. “But you have to put yourself first. By putting yourself first, you are also helping your children and showing them strength.
Keegan, who has been in her flat for nearly a year, said she made the right choice for her baby girl and felt she had found a space where home was a haven again.
“To be able to live here and know that I’m safe, I don’t want my daughter to have a childhood that she has to heal from,” Keegan said.
If you need to speak to a lawyer, you can contact CT Safe Connect by phone, text, email or chat 24/7. You can chat in the language of your choice and you can also stay anonymous.
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