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Rapid Re-Housing For Domestic-Violence Victims Goes Statewide

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Securing safe, affordable housing is often the biggest challenge facing victims of domestic violence. A new program seeks to help them overcome that barrier. (Greg Stotelmyer)
Securing safe, affordable housing is often the biggest challenge facing victims of domestic violence. A new program seeks to help them overcome that barrier. (Greg Stotelmyer)
December 27, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. – For the first time, a Rapid Re-Housing Program is being taken statewide to help victims of domestic violence. Using a $259,000 grant from the Kentucky Housing Corporation, the state's network of 15 shelters will provide rental assistance to at least 40 women in any Kentucky county except Jefferson and Fayette.

Elizabeth Anderson, economic empowerment programs administrator for the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said the goal is to help survivors quickly secure safe, affordable housing.

"What we have found is that survivors who seek help from our shelters, they're typically citing housing as their number one need," she said. "If you can help secure safe housing for somebody, you're creating a stable environment to then be able to start working on any other needs that they might have."

Anderson said the program is designed to help those who have difficulty getting assistance through other programs because they are undocumented, have criminal records or owe money to public-housing authorities. Anderson said the huge shortage of subsidized housing in Kentucky adds to the barriers victims of domestic violence face as they try to leave their abuser.

It's the challenge Mackenzie, a mother of two, said she faced over nine years of verbal and physical abuse, a cycle of manipulation she said she couldn't break, in large part because of her partner's financial control.

"We had a joint bank account, so everything that came in, he controlled," she said. "He knew what money I spent, and if I spent something he would question it. So I was stuck, I was stuck."

Mackenzie, who lives in western Kentucky, said the Rapid Re-Housing Program will help women flee a bad situation quickly. She knows first-hand how crucial financial help can be for a family in the grip of domestic abuse.

"Once I was able to see, 'OK, they're going to help pay my rent,' they also gave me an electric voucher, so that helped me pay my electrical bill,'" she added. "That right there was enough for me to say, 'OK, I can go. I can go, I can get out safely. I don't have to worry about him.'"

The Rapid Re-Housing Program will provide rental and utility assistance for up to 12 months, with the possibility of an extension.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY