Partnership, funding to help victims of domestic violence

The YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County, Willow Domestic Violence Center and the Legal Aid Society of Rochester have received funding from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Rochester/Monroe County Homeless Continuum of Care (RMHCoC).

The program is an innovative collaboration in rapid rehousing for survivors of domestic violence.

“This is a huge win for our community,” said YWCA President and CEO Angela Panzarela. “With increased domestic violence incidents reported in our community and 14,148 individuals denied shelter in domestic violence residential programs in 2016, we knew we had to do better to ensure all individuals in our community are safe.”

The YWCA turned to Willow and the Legal Aid Society to find a solution to the problem, officials said.

“Safe, affordable housing is a critical need for survivors of abuse in our community,” Willow President and CEO Meaghan de Chateauvieux said. “This new way of collaborating with our long-time partners ensures that the full spectrum of survivor needs are addressed, including safety planning, legal services and supportive housing.”

It is not the first time YWCA and Willow have collaborated; in 2016, they were awarded a grant through the Office of Violence Against Women to develop the Bridges Home program. Bridges Home offers supportive housing, financial assistance and supports to ensure women feel safe as they rebuild their lives after fleeing domestic violence.

“We are thrilled to expand our collaborative efforts with YWCA and Willow, and merge our experience preventing homelessness with our expertise of providing civil legal services to survivors of domestic violence,” Legal Aid Society President and CEO Carla Palumbo said.

The new funding will support a case manager at YWCA and at Willow, as well as an attorney at the Legal Aid Society. Individuals enrolled in the RMHCoC program, including men and families impacted by domestic violence, will be provided safe emergency shelter while in crisis. Case managers will assist with issues of mental health, substance abuse, employment education and training.

Once permanent housing has been identified, the grant will help support three to six months of rental assistance and support services for up to a year or more, if required.

In May 2017, the Housing Homeless Services Annual Report noted that in addition to funds spent to house individuals impacted by domestic violence within Monroe County, Monroe County Human Services paid more than $450,000 for temporary housing for Monroe County residents in domestic violence shelters outside the county. Rapid rehousing programs speed the path to permanent housing and have an economic benefit for the community, with rental costs being invested back to the county.

“Collaboration is key to the success of this project,” Panzarella said. “It is only through a community of partners, each focused on their program area of expertise that this program will succeed. Through partnership, we will make our community a supportive home for survivors of domestic violence.”

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