The latest issue of Seven Days features a great article by Alicia Freese on the struggles that victims of domestic violence face when seeking emergency shelter in Vermont. Below is a short excerpt:
“Many victims are making untenable choices between homelessness and abuse,” Auburn Watersong of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence told the small crowd at downtown Taylor Park.
She wasn’t being hyperbolic. Recently, emergency shelters for abuse victims have been unable to welcome everyone who comes knocking. Those who are turned away often end up in unsupervised motels along with the homeless and mentally ill.
In St. Albans, the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity runs a 10-bed shelter — one of 10 scattered across the state that offer secure accommodations to fleeing victims and their children. Program director Kris Lukens, who helped organize the rally, noted in an interview that it’s been full since last September.
Head southeast and the story is the same. WISE operates a safe home in the Upper Valley. “We don’t have the beds,” said director Peggy O’Neil.
Chittenden County’s Women Helping Battered Women has been full for roughly a year, according to executive director Kelly Dougherty.
Collectively, Vermont’s 10 shelters have a maximum capacity of 115 beds. In 2014, they provided emergency housing to 782 people for a total of nearly 29,000 nights, according to the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, a coalition of organizations that includes the shelters.
In the same time frame, they turned away 346.
To read the entire article, click here.