Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $747,147)
Project Abstract: Safe Shelter Collaborative—extended service, tech enhancements, and geographic expansion
When a survivor of domestic or sexual violence reaches out for help, an agency’s first step is often to find safe, appropriate, and immediately available shelter for the survivor. However, appropriate and available shelter is a diminishing resource that is not easily found. Harder yet, survivors are often left to seek shelter for themselves, repeating their story and furthering their trauma.
The scope of need for survivors of human trafficking is also significant. As with survivors of domestic violence, quickly finding available and survivor-appropriate shelter is time-and labor-intensive, and not always successful – and is compounded by fewer overall available shelter beds.
Caravan Studios, a division of TechSoup, believes that technology can be a powerful tool to address these challenges. In close collaboration with shelter agencies, the Safe Shelter Collaborative was developed to provide a coordinated and scalable response to increase and expedite access to shelter for survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual assault. It is a web-and mobile-based technology service that (1) expedites shelter referrals and reduces re-traumatization for victims, and (2) connects participating agencies with a network of vetted sheltering agencies in their own region and nationwide.
This project allows the Safe Shelter Collaborative to reach more victims and ensure greater access to services through three project objectives: (1) extend the program by offering technology-enabled access to additional critical-need services, such as vetted, pro bono legal services for victims; (2) enhance program functionality by streamlining alert-sharing between regions, and (3) expand the program reach from 22 to 40 regions in the US.
Additionally, this project will support sustainability planning for the program and continue collection of aggregated, personally non-identifying data to track program effectiveness and identify possible gaps in shelter access for victims at regional and national levels.