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Michigan domestic violence shelter to provide transitional housing for survivors

Safe Haven Ministries is partnering with other groups to provide affordable housing for some women and families after their stay in the emergency shelter.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — There's a new effort tonight to help survivors of domestic violence. Safe Haven Ministries wants to make sure women don't go back to violent homes after they leave the emergency shelter. 

Over the last two years, the Grand Rapids non-profit organization has seen a 30 percent increase in time spent responding to crisis calls from people experiencing domestic violence. 

Now, Safe Haven Ministries wants to make sure those in need have options when they leave. Later this summer, they're launching Safe Transitions, which will provide affordable housing for women and their families. 

"That's a big step, right, being able to leave a secure, safe shelter," Zenaida Jimenez, director of housing, says. "But then there is, you know, what happens after, what happens after shelter."

She says it can be challenging for survivors to find a safe and affordable place to stay.

"There's a lot of barriers that could be put in place: financial barriers, childcare barriers. And when you're going through a crisis like that, it's hard to focus on, you know, getting all of those things in line," Jimenez says.

Safe Haven Ministries will be partnering with two other organizations in town.

"Affordable housing has been an issue in Grand Rapids for a long time, but (it's been) absolutely skyrocketing in the last few years," Madison Church Executive Director Joanna DeMoor-Tannor says. 

The church is renovating their duplex homes to house two families at once. Families can stay up to two years.

"Basically, until they reach a point where they feel or have kind of overcome some of the barriers they're facing in their own lives," she says. "They've had the time the stability to work on some of their goals, and then be able to move into other permanent housing."

The A.Y.A Youth Collective are helping to house young adults, age 18 to 24.

"We know there are over 200 young people sleeping outside or in emergency shelters, and that number is more than doubled than what there was last year," Andy Allen, director of advancement, says. "When youth can have access to other resources, other counseling, other experts in the field that allow them to enter in a space where they can process potentially past trauma or crises, the opportunity to find stability is that much quicker, but also that much more stable long term."

Renovations should be complete at the Madison Church affordable housing location next month, and it will be ready for Safe Haven Ministries to start housing people on August 1st, 2022. 

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