By Julieta Barcaglioni, Housing Assistance Program Manager
In October of 2011, Safe Harbor received a grant from the Office of Violence Against Women to begin a second transitional housing program for victims of domestic violence. This second program – called the Housing Assistance Program (HAP) – will serve a minimum of 14 clients for a period of 3 years and strives to achieve three main goals and objectives.
The first and main goal is to provide secure, stable and safe housing for victims of domestic violence. HAP provides transitional rental and utility assistance for its clients for an average period of 18 months. During such period, HAP pays 40% of participants’ rent and utilities. Participants are able to select an apartment or home of their choice in any of the four counties that Safe Harbor serves (Greenville, Oconee, Pickens, and Anderson). Securing safe and affordable housing is one of the greatest obstacles that survivors of domestic violence face. Therefore, the HAP program also includes a more long-term solution approach to housing. Participants are encouraged to begin thinking about other long-term solutions and are guided through the process of familiarizing themselves with more permanent low-income based housing and home ownership programs.
The second goal of the program is to increase the ability of domestic violence victims to obtain jobs. Victims of domestic violence are particularly vulnerable to the economic and personal challenges of sparse employment opportunities. For this reason, all HAP clients are offered placement into the Greenville Technical College Quick Jobs with a Future program, which allows clients to quickly obtain skills matching the needs of local business and industry.
The third goal of the program is to equip victims with the knowledge and skills to be financially successful. Financial literacy or empowerment is pivotal for HAP participants to be successful in the long run. For this reason, Safe Harbor has partnered with Greenville County Human Relations Commission to offer HAP clients an Individual Development Account (IDA) program, a matched savings account designed to help low to moderate-income individuals increase their financial stability through the accumulation of assets such as homeownership or education. Other supportive services offered to increase clients’ financial literacy and level of empowerment include financial seminars, couponing classes, and a financial curriculum provided by SCCADVASA.
Through the HAP program, clients can receive a complete range of support. The HAP program provides necessary safety planning and other support services (like alarm systems) that are essential when working with victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence counseling and education is also offered to HAP participants during the duration of the program. It is the goal of the HAP program to maintain an encouraging and safe living environment for domestic violence survivors.
As of March 2012, Safe Harbor’s HAP has 12 participants who will stay in the program for an average of 18 months. The diversity of the participants in the program is truly remarkable – we have participants who have children and participants who are single; some who have full-time or part-time employment and others who receive disability; participants who are survivors of cancer and participants who have immigrated from other countries; some who are 19 years old and others who just celebrated their 50th birthday; some are black, some are white and some of Hispanic ethnicity; some who have a college degree and some who are working towards getting a GED. Despite all these differences, however, they all have a very important thing in common – they all have decided to break the cycle of violence and have already embarked on their journey towards a life free of violence, self-sufficiency and self-empowerment.
At the same time, several noticeable challenges and barriers have already emerged for HAP participants. Some of these are: lack of furniture and household items, transportation, and affordable child care, just to name a few.
If you’d like to volunteer or donate any items or funds to Safe Harbor, please feel free to contact us via our website at www.safeharborsc.org, or you can call us at 864.467.1177 or 1.800.291.2139. If your are interested in learning more about HAP, you can also contact Julieta Barcaglioni, Housing Assistance Program Manager, at Julieta.firstname.lastname@example.org.