Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $400,000)
A Safe Place has been the leader in Domestic Violence services in Northern Illinois for 44 years and human trafficking for the past 6 years, and has provided emergency shelter during that entire time plus transitional housing for the past 14 years in Lake County Illinois. Last fiscal year (FY21/July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021), A Safe Place provided services to 25,088 individuals and sheltered 730 people, including 387 adults and 343 children at its 33-bed congregate shelter and our greatly expanded local hotel shelter program. The survivors sheltered were predominately from Lake County, IL (58%). However, 23% of survivors were from Cook County and 12% were from out-of-state. A Safe Place is currently unable to accept the companion animals of those who are escaping domestic violence due to staffing and physical space limitations, which is known to be a factor in people staying longer than is safe in dangerous relationships.
The purpose of the proposed Emergency Shelter and Transitional Housing for Survivors and their Companion Animals Project will allow A Safe Place to provide services to the roughly 10% of the population who cannot leave the dangerous situation due to fear of leaving their pet behind. A Safe Place will remodel the existing shelter to include a kennel, pet wash station, two dedicated bedrooms where those survivors may stay with their pets, an extensive outdoor enclosure for pet and survivor exercise and recreation, and a dedicated staff to assist in the caring for the companion animal. Additionally, a plan for transitional housing units is also included in the project to accommodate pets.
A Safe Place expects to serve an additional 20-30 survivors annually as a result of this project and assist the survivor and companion animal in securing permanent housing as a long-term goal. Another facet of the proposed plan is to increase the understanding in the local communities of the link between animal abuse and domestic violence, which will be achieved through presentations and publications. A Safe Place specializes in outreach and services for local vulnerable populations including the homeless, English Language Learners, people from the LGBTQ+ community, BIPOC (among A Safe Place clients 47% are African American, 19% are Latinx, 5% Multi Racial and 5% Native American), people with a disability, children/adolescents, and undocumented residents. This project would qualify under Priority Area A.