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Pivotal Moments: Support for Families in Crisis Made Possible by the Gerstner Family Foundation

By Dana Rosenwasser
March 6, 2019

$500 to fix a car, or $1,200 to put a deposit down on an apartment, doesn’t seem like it would change the trajectory of a person’s entire life. But for families that have been displaced by violence, it can make the difference between ongoing crisis and long-term safety.

That’s why Safe Horizon offers emergency, direct support as a resource to keep families strong, safe, and ready for the next opportunity. To help agency clients get what they need in moments of crisis, Safe Horizon has been a proud partner of the Gerstner Family Foundation since 2011, through the Foundation’s Helping Hands Program. In that time, the foundation has given $2 million in grants and benefitted over 2,100 people.

The foundation powers our Emergency Client Assistance Program (ECAP) to offer help the moment it’s needed. ECAP gives families emergency resources and tools to rebuild and move forward. ECAP is used throughout all of our programs including Domestic Violence Shelters, Court Programs, and Streetwork Project for displaced young people, and might include help for housing, healthcare, children’s needs, transportation, or so much more.

How Violence Impacts Stability: Why Survivors Need ECAP

At Safe Horizon, we see how crime, abuse, and violence take away choices from survivors every day. For example, an abuser who controls the partner’s access to economic resources can be depriving the survivor of money, prevent them from obtaining a job, or purposefully ruining their credit rating and ability to get credit. This can be especially so for survivors who have a low income, come from historically marginalized communities, or generally have limited resources.

This impact cascades; negatively impacting the ability for survivors to access and maintain safe, permanent housing. Small payment can quickly snowball into a catastrophe, often resulting in homelessness. Flexible funding from ECAP disrupts this dangerous crisis cycle, supports stability and empowers families with choice.

ECAP in Action

ECAP support is made possible through the Gerstner Family Foundation’s Helping Hands Program. Of the over 2,100 people ECAP has helped, *Jade’s story is one that shows the power of immediate support in moments of crisis.

Jade is the mother of two children, who was in an abusive relationship with their father. When the verbal and physical abuse escalated Jade felt scared for her and her children’s safety. She moved out of her apartment, but her former partner found her, and began stalking her. She tried staying with friends, but the support wasn’t consistent.

At a custody hearing in Family Court, her former partner used Jade’s unstable housing as a reason she shouldn’t have the kids. Anxious and determined, Jade found another apartment for her family. Her income from work was enough to cover rent, but she didn’t have money for the security deposit. With support from her case manager at Safe Horizon’s Community Program, Jade received $1,300 in funds from ECAP, enabling her to live in a safe place with her children. ECAP could not be here without the Gerstner Family Foundation’s grant program.

Stories like Jade’s show how direct help in a moment of crisis can shape a survivor’s journey to safety. Moving forward into a second decade of partnership with the Gerstner Family Foundation, we look forward to celebrating many more moments where survivors are able to move from crisis to confidence.

* Client names and identifying information have been changed to protect their privacy. Images used are representations of Safe Horizon’s clients.

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