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Economy Leaving NH Domestic Violence Victims "Stuck in Shelters"

March 10, 2008

Nashua, NH – Washington D.C. says the economy is "contracting," and shelters for victims of sexual violence are seeing some of the consequences. The number of "bed nights" spent in Granite State domestic violence shelters soared 21 percent last year, to a total of more than 12,000.

Dawn Reams, with the group Bridges Domestic and Sexual Violence Support in Nashua, says the increase can be blamed in part on a shortage of decent, affordable housing for women escaping abuse, which has worsened due to competition from victims of the mortgage crisis, who also need places to live.

"We're so busy struggling with working with the people coming through our door, that we don't have the energy or the resources to put toward solving the problem of affordable housing and economic self-sufficiency."

Reams adds the other part of the problem is that soaring housing costs have made it harder for women to round up the resources to escape an abusive relationship. The result, she says, is that not everyone who needs emergency shelter can get it.

"We have had to turn people away because our shelter is full. That said, we work with them to try to find other emergency shelters through our sister agencies."

Reams believes Congress should restore funds for victim service programs that President Bush cut from this year's budget.

John Robinson/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - NH