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Orange County United Way Launches Domestic Violence Rapid Re-Housing Collaborative

Coinciding with National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, program offers vital housing services to families facing domestic violence, at risk of homelessness

IRVINE, CA – With October serving as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Orange County United Way today announced the launch of a groundbreaking collaborative effort to provide permanent housing options to families who have experienced domestic violence in Orange County.

The Orange County Domestic Violence Rapid Re-housing Collaborative leverages the expertise of four local, leading domestic violence service agencies: Human Options, Interval House, Laura’s House and Women’s Transitional Living Center (WTLC). These organizations will work together to develop a system to place families, for whom it is a safe option, into permanent housing as opposed to shelter.

Domestic violence and homelessness often go hand-in-hand for far too many domestic violence situations.

“Fleeing domestic violence often leaves survivors homeless or struggling to find stability amidst the chaos and trauma of abuse,” remarked Carla Vargas, Orange County United Way Senior Vice President, Community Impact. “But not all families require the extensive services of an emergency or transitional shelter, and just need alternative permanent housing, supplemented with some additional support services.”

Vargas hopes that by convening and mobilizing the collective expertise and resources addressing the immediate housing needs of families leaving domestic violence situations, this new collaborative will help local individuals and families quickly regain safe, permanent, and stable living environments.

One in four women experience some form of domestic violence. Studies by the National Alliance to End Homelessness have indicated that domestic violence is an immediate cause of homelessness for women and their children. And, they have cited rapid rehousing with a program design that incorporates appropriate safety planning and supportive services as a tool to effectively end this cycle for domestic violence survivors not requiring the level of intensive programming of a shelter.

“Joining forces with our fellow domestic violence shelter organizations will make us all stronger at serving our clients,” shared Gigi Tsontos, Executive Director of the Women’s Transitional Living Center. “We look forward to working together to develop a countywide and shared system to support survivors who are prepared for immediate independent housing.”

Rapid Re-housing is a core component of United Way’s FACE 2024 ten-year community-wide action plan. With more than 32,000 local homeless or housing-insecure children, one of the organization’s goals is to cut that number in half within the decade. Keys to achieving this goal are partnerships such as the Domestic Violence Rapid Re-housing Collaborative.

The Collaborative will devote its initial efforts to research and evaluation of existing rapid re-housing efforts nationally and locally. From there, the agencies will develop a comprehensive and uniform program design, specific to survivors of domestic violence, including operating principles and procedures, staff training and educational tools and work to establish key partnerships with other service providers to most accurately and collectively serve the housing and other needs of this population.

“By enhancing the housing options available for survivors of domestic violence, we can not only address their most pressing needs, but also make a huge dent in our community’s homeless rates, especially for families.” explained Brenyale Toomer-Byas, United Way’s Director, Housing and Income.

“According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness” Toomer-Byas continued, “rapid re-housing is a successful model in helping households exit homelessness and not return to shelter. Applying the successful Rapid Re-housing model to survivors of domestic violence is a huge step forward in our collective efforts.”

For more information about United Way’s FACE 2024 Housing or other vital initiatives, please visit the Orange County United Way website.


Michael Suydam
21Strat 949.981.5008, mike@21strat.com

Katherine Ransom, Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Orange County United Way 949.263.6176, katheriner@unitedwayoc.org

About Orange County United Way:
Since 1924, Orange County United Way has been working to improve lives and strengthen our community by mobilizing the caring power of Orange County and focusing on the building blocks for a good quality of life: Education, Income, Health and Housing. By investing in Orange County children, families and individuals, we help them create pathways to self-sufficient lives. In short, we help people help themselves. Through our 10-year community-wide action plan, “FACE 2024” (an acronym for Fund, Advocate, Collaborate, Educate), we collaborate with local businesses, community organizations, governmental agencies and individuals to make a long-term measurable difference in the lives of local individuals and families. To learn more or to join our movement, visit www.unitedwayoc.org.

About Human Options:
Human Options has been offering comprehensive services to survivors of domestic violence since 1981. Its mission is to provide safe haven and life changing programs to help abused women, their children and families rebuild their lives – and work with the community to break the cycle of violence. Human Options has developed a full continuum of programs that include residential programs (emergency shelter, transitional housing), the community-based Center for Children and Families, and violence prevention and education programs. Human Options provides intervention and treatment services for 1,467 children and families each year for all of Orange County. For more information, visit www.humanoptions.org.

About Interval House:
The mission of Interval House, founded in 1979 as a lifeline to underserved victims in crisis, is to ensure safety for people who are battered, abused, or at risk; to create public awareness about the epidemic of violence; and to mobilize the community to prevent violence and end this recurring phenomenon. Today, Interval House has strengthened its mission and purpose by offering specialized programs and services in over 70 different languages for both youth and adult victims. For more information, visit www.intervalhouse.org.

About Laura’s House:
The mission of Laura’s House is to change the social beliefs, attitudes and the behaviors that perpetuate domestic violence while creating a safe space to empower individuals and families affected by abuse. For more than 20 years, Laura’s House has served those whose lives have been affected by domestic violence. Over the past two decades, Laura’s House has provided shelter and support services to more than 4,000 battered women and children and counseling, life skills education and legal assistance to nearly 50,000 people. For more information, please visit www.laurashouse.org.

About Women’s Transitional Living Center:
WTLC is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals and families escape the depths of domestic violence and exploitation. WTLC provides the tools and resources to build self-esteem and empower people for independent living. The organization’s vision is to end the cycle of violence and exploitation through education and rehabilitation. For more information, visit www.wtlc.org.

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