Your first step in getting connected to the Domestic Violence Housing First (DVHF) project is to reach out through Safe+Sound Somerset’s 24/7 Call and Text Hotline at 866.685.1122. Access to all of our services happens by taking this first step.
The hotline advocate answering your call or text will collect your information and submit a referral to the Financial Empowerment Center (FEC), and any other services you wish to learn more about or access. Once received, a staff member from the Financial Empowerment program will call you to discuss your situation.
What to Expect When the Financial Empowerment Center Contacts You
First, and foremost, expect to be treated with compassion, dignity and respect. The Domestic Violence Housing First project, which is part of Safe+Sound Somerset’s Financial Empowerment Center, helps survivors secure safe housing and a path to self-sufficiency and stability.
The FEC staff make sure you are in a safe and private place, and that the timing is good for you to discuss your circumstances. If you are not in safe place or it’s a bad time to speak, we will make a specified appointment to call you back.
We will listen to you and collect information about your immediate situation and concerns about housing needs. On this first call, we will partner with you to create a safety plan, provide an introduction to the FEC and Domestic Violence Housing First program, and highlight the importance of confidentiality. Staff will conduct a financial and housing intake, discussing the benefits of the DVHF program. If you decide to proceed with services, you will schedule a second session to begin work on short- and mid-term housing and financial goals during an average 6-month period.
What to Expect as a DVHF Client
Based on the nationally recognized Domestic Violence Housing First model, the program provides short-term rental assistance, relocation assistance, landlord advocacy, rental security deposit assistance, and advocacy help with creditors. Survivor-driven housing advocacy, safety planning and financial literacy support allow domestic violence survivors to heal from their trauma as they work towards economic well-being and independence.
Through partnerships with landlords, building management companies and culturally specific organizations in our community, S+SS DVHF program works to serve survivors with few resources and high needs. The pillars of the DVHF program are Survivor Empowerment, Mobile Advocacy, Community Engagement, Flexible Funding Assistance, and the Landlord Alliance. Two of these pillars are explained in greater detail below.
FEC staff will partner with survivors to provide education and tools which enable them to choose short and mid-term housing and financial goals. Staff use a trauma-informed approach that encourages survivors to voice their needs and desires.
FEC staff will seek partnerships with landlords who understand that safe housing is the key to survivors rebuilding their lives, and who are willing to collaborate on ensuring additional safety measures, such as access to upper-level apartments, functional doors, window locks, and more.
FEC staff works to uphold those pillars while partnering with survivors in all aspects of the DVHF program, such as creating a monthly budget, identifying affordable and safe housing within a client’s budget, conducting housing searches, and navigating barriers like poor credit histories, evictions, and more. FEC staff will encourage you to make decisions regarding housing searches with safety in mind. FEC staff can provide you with coaching and support in contacting landlords and/or property owners to help secure housing. Most important, you can expect a commitment to help guide you through a safe housing journey.
Since the Financial Empowerment Center takes a holistic and transformational approach, you can expect to learn about other services available at Safe+Sound Somerset, such as Legal Advocacy, Family Advocacy and Counseling, that help survivors achieve safety, hope and healing from domestic violence.
To access or for additional information about the Domestic Violence Housing First program, please reach out through Safe+Sound Somerset’s our 24/7 Call or Text Hotline at 866-685-1122. Additional information on DVHF and other services, can also be found at www.safe-sound.org.