- Posted by Sarah Swiston
- On October 9, 2020
- Chicago, Chicago suburbs, children services, children survivors dv, COVID-19, Domestic Violence, domestic violence agency, DV agency, End Domestic Violence, Housing Programs, non-profit, northwest chicago, Pandemic, Philanthropy, Safe Place, WINGS Program
One of the most harrowing questions facing a victim of domestic violence is, “If I leave, where will my children and I go? Will we have a safe place to sleep?” Having a safe place to sleep and to recover is critical for a victim of domestic violence, and their children, so they can begin to rebuild their lives.
As the largest provider of domestic violence housing in Illinois, WINGS provides a safe place to sleep for hundreds of adults and children each night. Last year, 71,839 nights of safe shelter were provided through WINGS 52 housing locations.
WINGS Essential Safe House Services
WINGS opened a Suburban Safe House in 2005 in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and WINGS Metro in 2016 in the southwest side of Chicago.
Open 24 hours a day, WINGS Safe Houses offer basic needs at no cost to the survivors. Both Safe Houses create a wraparound support system that assists in removing a client’s isolation, which is often a way an abuser seeks control over their victim.
Survivors are offered important resources including crisis counseling, referrals for filing an order of protection, safety planning and support and educational groups. Last year WINGS Safe Houses served 427 individuals, including 241 children.
Each Safe House can serve up to 40-45 residents each night; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, capacities for each Safe House have been reduced to 30 to allow each household to properly social distance within the living areas.
While capacity has been lowered, the amount of time survivors can stay has remained the same: up to 90 days at the Suburban Safe House and 120 days at WINGS Metro.
Due to the increased need for services, WINGS has been working to rapidly place families into stable housing. From April through June 2020, WINGS assisted 64% of households in exiting into stable housing, whereas the same quarter the year prior was 40%.
New Ways to Meet Survivors’ Needs
During the state-wide stay at home order, WINGS Metro Safe House moved three families into on-site apartments with their own kitchens, allowing for families to self-isolate.
The Suburban Safe House experienced different challenges. At the end of March, many Suburban Safe House clients were working in essential places. Consequently, WINGS moved all of the residents into extended-stay hotel suites with their own kitchenettes. Though an increased program cost, clients were kept safe and continually brought supplies and assurance by WINGS staff. WINGS has since moved families back into the Safe House.
Due to the effectiveness of the hotel model, WINGS was recently awarded government grant funding to serve an additional 70 individuals in hotels, ultimately increasing the agency’s emergency housing capacity.
A Peace of Mind
Having a safe place to sleep provides a peace of mind that empowers survivors to heal, create goals and ultimately obtain freedom from abuse:
“Two weeks into the temporary closing of the Suburban Safe House and shifting to the hotel model due to COVID-19, I received a call from a past client. She was concerned that WINGS would have to shut the program down and couldn’t imagine what people like herself would do if the Safe House closed.
I could hear the relief in her voice when I told her we were still operating, just a little differently.
She shared what an impact the program made on her and her family, and that she currently lives in her own condo, without fear of being found by her abuser.”
– WINGS Manager of Safe House Services
Learn How You Can Provide a Safe Night of Shelter
Click here to learn more about WINGS Safe House and Housing programs.
Click here to provide a safe night of shelter.
Will You Consider Providing?:
One hour of domestic violence training – $50
A night of shelter and food – $100
A month of fresh produce – $250
A new shelter bed – $500