City Funds Domestic Violence Counselors for Public Housing Residents

Domestic violence counseling is now being made directly available to at-risk residents of San Francisco’s public housing units.

In a partnership between the San Francisco Housing Authority and the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, two newly recruited domestic violence counselors have been hired to help out in public housing communities.

According to an announcement released today by the housing authority, two domestic violence counselors will be stationed at the San Francisco Housing Authority’s headquarters at 1815 Egbert Ave. in the city’s Bayview District, Monday through Friday during regular business hours.

Counselors, staffed by the non-profit organization La Casa de las Madres, will be available to help individuals who have experienced domestic violence or those in need of referrals for their family members or friends.

La Casa de las Madres’ program director Lindsay Sweetnam said today that while La Casa de las Madres has been doing safe housing work in San Francisco public housing for years, this grant will allow counselors to work on-site alongside the housing authority.

Sweetnam said she anticipates that the partnership will broaden community awareness of the services available to victims of domestic violence.

She said the partnership in the Bayview District is important because it “provides us access to people who might not reach us otherwise.”

When someone contacts the San Francisco Housing Authority or comes into their offices seeking refuge from an unsafe housing situation, instead of being handed a phone number to contact a counselor, a counselor can be available on the spot or can promptly come to their home.

Both appointments and drop-in visits are encouraged.

While Sweetnam didn’t say exactly how long the partnership will be funded, she said La Casa de las Madres is committed to counseling victims of domestic violence in the city’s public housing complexes as long as there is a need.

The program is a result of a $110,000 grant awarded by the city to the Department on the Status of Women.

The goal of the partnership is to help make sure those affected by domestic violence receive the recovery and healing services available in San Francisco.

San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen was among those who spearheaded the city’s funding efforts.

Cohen highlighted the need for the city to reach out specifically to victims of domestic violence within the city’s public housing units.

“The survivors of domestic violence are mothers, wives, daughters and sisters in some of our City’s most vulnerable communities,” Cohen said.

“There is no question we should be championing these vital services as we continue our fight against domestic violence.”

Dr. Emily Murase, the director of the Department on the Status of Women, said that some of those most at risk of violence in their homes are those living in public housing.

Barbara Smith, acting executive director of the San Francisco Housing Authority, said that in addition to hiring two new counselors, the grant will also fund training for San Francisco Housing Authority staff so that they too can more effectively communicate with clients who are victims of domestic violence.

Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

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