Finding Safety in a Place of their Own
The Rise Housing Program
by Lisa Sifrit
Imagine for a moment what it feels like to wake up one day and realize that you have put yourself and your children through all of the verbal and physical abuse that one can bear. You decide it is time to make moves to leave the relationship that has caused so much self-doubt and isolation, and create a world for your family that is free of violence. As this awareness hits, it is immediately followed by the troubling realization that you are waking up in the bed and the home that you share with your abusive partner that is provided by their income. It is not that you are unable to work, but you have been told you need to leave your job to raise the children, or the constant fights and bruises have caused you to miss work so many times that you were fired. In order to make your decision to leave a reality, the basic need of shelter can be a barrier that may seem impossible to defeat with so much stacked against you.
We have developed our Housing Program at Rise to help our clients feel confident and safe when choosing to independently stabilize. We have two tracks to help accomplish this: a Long-term Housing Program and Emergency Assistance Program. The Long-term Housing Program gives clients five months to become financially independent by paying a portion of rent each month for five months. This allows clients time to find an income, child care, and (most importantly) relieve financial stress while healing from the trauma they have endured. Since starting this program in the spring of 2019, we have helped maintain housing and/or located new appropriate housing for 10 families in our community. Our Emergency Assistance Program is for clients in need of one-time rental assistance, utility assistance, or relocation costs. This program has helped us move families quickly away from perpetrators in ways such as greyhound bus tickets or gas for their vehicles, and we have also been able to assist in U Haul costs for families planning to make a fresh start for themselves.
Our Housing Program has not only been successful because of Rise, but is largely so successful because of help from community members who have recognized our cause and chosen to selflessly lend a helping hand. In order to help our clients with necessary items for their homes, such as cleaning products, toilet paper, and paper towels, we have received generous donations making it possible to give each client a housewarming basket when they move into their new residence. We have also been fortunate to have a local family who has been willing to provide a Safe Home in a section of their home which is a short term housing unit for clients with limited options in transition between homes. Finding housing will always be a barrier for our clients, but we are so happy to have helped families in the past, and to help many more in the future.