Just under 7,500 adults and children spent 283,170 nights in domestic violence shelters in Arizona last year. That’s a lot of people, spending a lot of nights away from home. Emergency shelters are full, with dozens of people—traumatized people--sharing a kitchen, bathrooms, and in some cases, even a bedroom with people they’ve never met before.
My Sister's Place Senior Program Manager, Leslie Mar’Na, says these upgrades go a long way to make their clients—who are already under a lot of stress--feel more comfortable. Community living is hard, especially when you’re sharing space with someone you don’t know.
“The last thing you need is, ‘the dishwasher’s not working,’ or ‘I can’t find my stuff,’ or ‘the bathroom looks icky,’" said Mar’Na.
DES Domestic Violence Program Administrator Laura Guild says this money means a lot to so many programs.
"Over the past year, we have consistently gotten feedback from the shelters expressing gratitude and excitement about shower heads or paving driveways," says Guild. "I have had many opportunities to visit these shelters over the years and know how deteriorated many of them have become. Capital improvements are always low on their budget priority list and just like in our lives, home improvements get put off until something no longer functions."
"Many of these shelters were created from existing properties that were not designed to be residential properties. They were modified to accommodate the need," says Guild. "Appliances, bathroom fixtures, and playgrounds are used by hundreds of people over the course of a year, so the wear and tear becomes very obvious."
Some of these improvements aren't quite as visible, but very necessary, and often, harder to acquire.
"There is not much emotional appeal around asking people to buy or donate an air conditioner."
--contractor in Pima County