PROVIDENCE, RI, October 29, 2007 – In an effort to help support victims of domestic violence who have left their abusers, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today joined with Karen Allen, Executive Director of Sojourner House, and Judith Earle, President of the Board of Directors for the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, to announce a $255,000 federal grant for Sojourner House to expand its transitional housing program. Sojourner House offers 24-hour assistance to victims of domestic violence, providing emergency support and crisis intervention, shelter, counseling, and legal advocacy. The group will use this Transitional Housing Assistance Grant to offer aid to victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault who are homeless, or in need of transitional housing, short-term housing assistance, and related support services.
“For over thirty years, Sojourner House has been making a difference and providing shelter to victims of domestic violence. I commend their dedicated staff and volunteers for helping thousands of women and families throughout Rhode Island,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations subcommittee which oversees federal funding for the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women programs. “When victims of domestic violence summon the courage to leave their abuser, it is imperative that they have a safe place to go where they can get the resources and support they need to rebuild their lives. This federal investment will allow Sojourner House to expand its transitional housing program to help victims, many of whom are women and children, move beyond emergency shelter and find permanent housing.”
“Sojourner House is fortunate to be able to bridge the gap between shelter and permanent housing for mothers and their children who are victims of domestic violence. Without transitional housing, many families would be homeless or forced to return to their abuser because they have no other option. This funding allows us the time to meet the needs of the families and assist in their stabilization,” said Karen Allen, Executive Director of Sojourner House.
According to a report issued this year by the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV), Rhode Island’s domestic violence crisis hotlines received 19,133 calls for crisis intervention, support, and referrals in 2006. During this time, the six member agencies of RICADV provided community services for 9,481 unduplicated victims of domestic violence. Last year, 611 women and children sought relief from abuse at one of Rhode Island’s six domestic violence emergency shelters. These women and children remained sheltered for a cumulative total of 22,417 nights.
“Sojourner House provides victims of domestic violence with more than just a safe place; they provide them with hope and the resources they’ll need to transition from emergency shelters to self-sufficiency,” said Reed, a key cosponsor of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill, which was signed into law last year. “This federal grant will help domestic violence victims who are in Sojourner’s transitional housing program deal with critical necessities, such as rent and utility payments, as they get back on their feet.”
“We are thrilled that Sojourner House was been awarded this money to expand their transitional housing program,” said Judith Earle, President of the Board of Directors for the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “In times of funding cuts and tighter budgets, it’s great that the need for this work has been recognized on a federal level.”
Sojourner House offers a comprehensive network of support that helps victims of domestic violence rebuild their lives, piece by piece. The center provides emergency support and crisis intervention, shelter, counseling, and legal advocacy, and addresses any other special needs a victim might have. Additionally, the agency supports the Rhode Island community in domestic violence prevention by offering a variety of educational and awareness programs. Since 1976, Sojourner House has served over 50,000 individuals.
In 2006, RICADV noted that on any given day in Rhode Island, nearly 50 people call a domestic violence hotline, 60 women and children spend the night in a domestic violence shelter, and 30 people seek community based domestic violence services. RICADV’s 2006 annual report states that 4,699 victims of domestic violence received individualized advocacy services, 321 victims attended support groups, and 189 children received specialized children’s services. The Coalition also reported that from 1992 to 2006, at least 93 Rhode Islanders died as a result of domestic violence.