Haven's grant to help with housing for violence survivors

November 25, 2020

PORTSMOUTH - Finding a safe place to live is just one of the barriers faced by victims of domestic violence. The tightness of the rental market on the Seacoast and rapid rise of home prices have made entering the housing market even more formidable.

Haven has received a four-year, $625,000 grant from the federal Office of Violence Against Women to provide a housing assistance program and related support to victims of sexual and domestic violence in Strafford County.

Haven, the state's largest domestic and sexual crisis support agency, will partner with the Strafford County Family Justice Center, Strafford County Community Action Program and Great Bay Community College to provide a wrap-around support network for survivors, Haven Executive Director Kathy Beebe said.

"We are grateful to the Office of Violence Against Women and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's office for their support," Beebe said. "This grant will allow us to provide critical housing support, job and life skills training as well as educational opportunities to those in crisis due to domestic and sexual violence."

Money from this grant will be used to find suitable housing for those in crisis while also freeing up space in Haven’s emergency shelter for those in immediate physical danger.

"There is a flexibility on our part for putting someone in this new program who is transitioning out of shelter and also for people who are not in imminent physical danger but definitely need to go somewhere else," Rodenhizer said. "This greatly improves our efficiency with shelter services because we have had clients ready to leave the shelter and go to their own housing who are unable to do so because they are waiting for rental subsidies and actual rentals to open up. This grant allows us to fast track them with some grant-funded rental subsidies, which in turn frees up space in the shelter for people in imminent danger."

The grant will help Haven and its partners work successfully with private landlords in Strafford County and municipal housing authorities, she said.

"The work that needs to be done is with private landlords and rental subsidies because while we live in a great geographic area, it’s a place everybody wants to live and the rents on the Seacoast are beyond what somebody in crisis can actually afford," Rodenhizer said.

In addition to providing help with housing, Haven will coordinate important support services with several key community partners.

"With our community partners, we are working on life skills through a case management program to help the clients navigate all of the different supports and resources, answering their questions completely as an extension of the support services offered at Haven," Rodenhizer said.

The grant will support the work of Haven’s transitional housing case manager, who will be working directly with clients enrolled in the program.

The Strafford County Family Justice Center will provide help with job training, transportation and computer space.

Haven will coordinate with Great Bay Community College in Rochester seeking reduced tuition, grants and financial aid through Work Ready New Hampshire.

The Strafford County Community Action Program will help clients with food, fuel and utilities assistance.

Haven advocates are available 24/7 by calling (603) 994-SAFE (7233). To learn more about this program, call the hotline or visit the website Havennh.org.

Source: Portsmouth Herald