Women Against Abuse to Testify on City-Wide Emergency Shelter Shortage
PHILADELPHIA – Women Against Abuse (WAA), Philadelphia’s leading domestic violence agency, will provide testimony on Monday, March 19th, at 10 a.m., at City Hall about Philadelphia’s persistent emergency shelter shortage for victims of domestic violence.
At the request of Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, WAA Executive Director Jeannine Lisitski and Director of Shelter Services Meghan Kincade will testify before the City Council Committee on Public Safety about the severe dearth of shelter beds for victims of domestic violence. A former Women Against Abuse client and survivor of domestic violence will share her story of survival, and experts from the Homeless Advocacy Project, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Interfaith Hospitality Network will testify as well.
Philadelphia, compared to neighboring cities of similar size, continues to experience a disproportionately acute shortage in shelter beds for domestic violence victims. WAA’s emergency shelter — which provides a comprehensive array of services to help domestic violence survivors escape abuse — is the only shelter in Philadelphia dedicated to the needs of domestic violence victims made homeless by the physical, emotional, or financial threats posed by an abuser.
Currently, the 100-bed facility runs at full occupancy, providing safety and supportive programming to more than 600 victims each year — half of whom are children. Over the past 5 years, WAA shelter staff have reported alarming increases in demand for shelter space. In 2011, WAA was forced to turn away 7,705 requests for beds in its emergency shelter due to limited capacity — a dramatic increase over the 1,705 turned-away requests reported in 2007.
Women Against Abuse works closely with the City’s Office of Supportive Housing (OSH) to respond to the need for safe shelter for victims of domestic violence. OSH has taken a leadership role in the City with respect to the issue of domestic violence since there is not a designated City agency responsible for addressing domestic violence. OSH has taken the lead on Federal grants to make legal interventions possible, and additionally supports the Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline.
Despite increased demand for domestic violence services, funding for Women Against Abuse has been threatened by cuts posed at the state level. Under Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed budget for 2012-2013, the Homeless Assistance Program, Human Services Development Fund and County Child Welfare will all experience 20% cuts, which will dramatically impact WAA’s ability to provide services for victims of domestic violence. These proposed cuts come on top of reduced funding in 2011, during which the Homeless Assistance Program was cut by 10%, and the Human Services Development Fund by 36%. OSH may similarly face loses under the Governor’s proposed budget.
The hearing will highlight the importance of domestic violence shelters, which provide unparalleled security and support for victims when they are at their most vulnerable. Women are at greatest risk of attempted murder when they decide to leave an abuser — each year, approximately 30 Philadelphian women are killed by an abuser. Emergency shelters for domestic violence are critical for providing physical safety, basic needs, and trauma-sensitive support in order to help victims start the recovery process and begin rebuilding their lives, free from abuse.
About Women Against Abuse
Women Against Abuse (WAA), Inc., one of the largest domestic violence programs in the country, serves more than 15,600 individuals each year through emergency housing, legal services, hotline counseling, education and advocacy.