HARRISBURG, Pa. — PCADV has received a $250,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to continue its critical frontline housing response for domestic violence survivors during the COVID-19 crisis. PCADV is the grant recipient and facilitator of the project. The regional community housing response will be carried out by three of its local domestic violence programs in Southwestern Pennsylvania: Alle-Kiski Area Hope Center serving Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern PA serving Fayette, Greene and Washington Counties, and Blackburn Center based in Westmoreland county.
Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness. When seeking safety, survivors experience many barriers and limited access to resources that make keeping or finding safe and secure housing challenging or nearly impossible. The COVID-19 crisis has stretched an already over-burdened housing system as social distancing protocols translated to sheltering fewer survivors.
In July 2020, leveraging CARES Act funding from Regional Housing Legal Services (RHLS), PCADV, and the three regional Southwest programs, in partnership with the National Alliance for Safe Housing (NASH), built an innovative and successful regional project to house survivors during the pandemic. This collaborative initiative used survivor-centered advocacy and resilience funds to counter the unmet housing needs. The project successfully supported 61 households before the funding period expired on November 30, 2020.
Many traditional funding sources, including rapid rehousing, are restrictive and not readily available to survivors. The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in even more reduced access to flexible resources. The $250,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation ensures that this work can continue and expand in the Southwestern region for another year. “Our grant will provide the targeted assistance that survivors of domestic violence need most, to avoid homelessness and stop the tragic spiral that too often follows domestic violence,” said Sam Reiman, director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation. “We also hope this initiative will generate data that make the case for ongoing improvements to programs to help survivors.”
This program’s continuation is a lifeline for survivors who may be teetering on the edge of homelessness due to domestic violence and the pandemic. “The programs in Southwest PA provide essential, life-saving services for survivors, and with this grant can offer financial support tailored to every family’s housing needs,” said Maria Williams, housing program manager for PCADV. “Often, a few hundred dollars can be the difference between a survivor affording a safe home or having to return to an abusive partner. Having access to this sort of funding creates a path for ending housing instability for survivors and truly changes lives.”
Ultimately the extension of the funding made possible by the Richard King Mellon Foundation will allow PCADV and its member programs to create and scale a model for housing retention and homelessness prevention that improves outcomes for survivors and may be replicated throughout the state.
Founded in 1976, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) is the oldest statewide domestic violence coalition in the nation. Each year, a network of 59 local domestic violence programs provides free and confidential services to nearly 90,000 victims of domestic violence and their children in all 67 counties of the commonwealth. The local programs and Coalition form interconnecting links in a chain of services and support to help victims and survivors find safety, obtain justice, and build lives free of abuse.