Mayor London Breed and District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced emergency housing for those escaping domestic violence. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Emergency housing made available for domestic violence survivors

Victims of abuse who are trapped during lockdown may have somewhere to turn

Mayor London Breed, District Attorney Chesa Boudin and The City’s Human Services Agency have secured 20 temporary housing units for victims of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials say that while self-quarantine orders are paramount for public safety and slowing the spread of Coronavirus, people at risk of suffering from domestic violence are trapped in extremely unsafe environments.

“As we shelter in place to limit COVID transmission, survivors of domestic violence are at an increased risk of danger and victimization by their abusers,” said District Attorney Boudin in a press release. “Now more than ever, we must work together to ensure that the most vulnerable of our victims have a place to shelter free from abuse. We have come up with an immediate plan for 20 furnished apartments and are working collaboratively to find shelter for many more survivors in the coming days.”

After an initial 60% spike in referrals to The City’s Victim Services Division during the first week of shelter-in-place orders, the office noted a 33% dropoff the following week. Although organizations who support victims of domestic violence have modified their services to provide virtual care, access to those resources may be out of reach when victims are living in the same home as their abusers.

“On top of dealing with the global pandemic, far too many families also have to deal with the threat of violence and abuse at home, all while being more socially isolated from their friends and other support networks,” said Mayor Breed in the press release. “We are seeing a concerning increase in cases of domestic violence around the world and in San Francisco, and there’s a growing need to have more safe places for survivors to go.”

Child abuse is also expected to increase in severity and frequency due to intense stressors among families isolated at home, and decreased reporting due to school closures, as previously reported by The San Francisco Examiner.

“For people experiencing domestic violence, the public health stay-at-home orders meant to save lives can have the unintended consequence of isolating them from the community and services that help keep families safe,” said Trent Rhorer, Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Services Agency in the press release.

The 20 furnished apartments should be available by the end of the week for families referred by domestic violence agencies to move into, along with pets, while The City works to secure additional emergency shelter. Veritas Investments, a San Francisco based real estate management firm, is providing the homes rent-free for 90 days. During their stay, survivors will have access to wraparound services from community based domestic violence agencies.

Domestic violence shelters and hotlines are essential businesses that remain open during lockdown.

“La Casa de las Madres is open and working to support survivors, because, sadly, domestic violence doesn’t stop during a pandemic,” said Kathy Black, executive director of La Casa de las Madres, in a statement. “We know that as this pandemic goes on, there will be an increased need for services and shelter, and these 20 temporary homes are a good place to start. I’m glad to see the City taking action to protect our most vulnerable residents and am thankful for Mayor Breed’s efforts to support survivors.”

If you are a survivor of domestic violence and need assistance, please contact:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
  • W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Crisis Line: 415-864-4722
  • La Casa de las Madres Crisis Lines: Adult Line 1-877-503-1850, Teen Line 1-877-923-0700
  • Asian Women’s Shelter Crisis Line: 1-877-751-0880
  • Saint Vincent de Paul Society – Riley Center Crisis Line: 415-255-0165

In an emergency, call 911. Resources for survivors of domestic violence can be found at Violence Against Women Prevention and Intervention Grants Program.

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