From The Street
From the outside, most domestic violence shelters are unrecognizable. A shelter can be anywhere and blend in. Although none of these buildings is a New York City shelter, any one of them could be.
What does a domestic violence shelter look like?
Do the women sleep in big rooms on cots?
Safe Horizon' shelter facilities, and most domestic violence shelters throughout the country, are designed specifically to support women and children. They are quite the opposite of what first comes to people's mind when the words 'homeless shelters' are used. Safe Horizon runs specially-designed facilities that are built to strict specifications to reflect the needs of women and children. In other communities around the country, shelters are frequently converted homes that offer the same amenities that one's own house would. In specially designed shelters like the ones Safe Horizon runs, women and their children are assigned to a private room that has enough (real) beds to accommodate the woman and her children. Some of the shelters may be arranged apartment-style with a private bath and kitchen. Others have shared baths and common cooking and eating areas. All of New York City's shelters are licensed by the Department of Social Services.
Is there only one kind of domestic violence shelter?
At Safe Horizon (and in New York City), emergency housing is considered to be shelters, safe apartments, or rooms in host homes where a battered woman and her children can stay for up to 90 days (with the possibility of an extension of an additional 45 days). Typically, a woman enters emergency housing before moving into transitional or permanent housing. The first Safe Horizon' shelter a battered woman encounters will likely help her through the immediate crisis caused by leaving her batterer and separating from her community, and help her to begin the process of learning to live independently. There are 2,000 beds in the New York City emergency shelter system, and Safe Horizon operates 500 of them.
An abused woman who leaves emergency housing may move into Safe Horizon' transitional housing, where she can remain for up to 6 months, with the possibility of an extension if warranted. It is hoped that upon leaving she will move to permanent housing. However, a recent survey of Safe Horizon' shelter residents indicated that in less than one-third of the cases women moved into permanent housing. Safe Horizon' transitional shelters provide services to battered women, such as job training, nutrition workshops, and peer counseling support groups to make it easier for them to regain their independence and live on their own. They focus on practical, concrete skills of independent living while offering therapeutic counseling for women and their children.
Finding permanent housing for a battered woman and her children may involve her renting a private apartment or moving into supportive housing managed by a social service organization like Safe Horizon. These organizations may offer continued services to the family to ensure that they are able to remain independent.