For those experiencing or leaving a domestic violence situation, Safe House for Women is more important than ever, but is operating on a limited staff and decreased budget, executive director Jessica Hill said.
The thrift shop is closed, and that income accounted for one third of the Safe House’s operating budget, she said.
“We’re losing $6,000 a week while that’s closed,” Hill said.
New people aren’t being brought in to the shelter, either, she said. Emergency placements at hotels are still happening, but the primary focus at the shelter is keeping everyone well, residents and staff alike.
“Social distancing, staying at home, self quarantine, can be a very high-risk situation for someone experiencing domestic violence. We’re really aware of that,” Hill said.
Staff members are taking precautions.
“We are screening residents and staff members every day, looking for symptoms and taking temperatures,” Hill said.
And, she said, staff encourages residents to limit comings and goings to prevent either catching or spreading the disease.
A private bedroom with attached bathroom is set aside as a quarantine room — it hasn’t been used, she said, but it’s ready for use.
The outreach office staff is on a rotation, too, Hill said, and that office is practicing social distancing — it’s only open for clients, who are encouraged to call ahead, especially if they need supplies.
Counseling services are being provided by phone as much as possible, she said.
Increased costs associated with a drop in revenue is a challenge, Hill said.
“We are still talking on the phone and helping our clients with everything we can. We’re just doing it a little more distantly than before,” she said.
For those living with an abusive partner, Hill said, a phone call to the 24-hour hotline at (573) 651-1614 might not be the safest option, but there is also a text line answered by the Safe House’s advocates, at (573) 349-1060.
On the group’s Facebook page at facebook.com/semosafehouse, pinned to the top, is a Google Docs form people can fill out if they need assistance, Hill added.
“If people go online and say ‘This is the assistance I need and the safest way to contact,’ that’s great,” Hill said. “We want to be available for people to reach us if they need us.”
Hill said in spite of the challenges staff members are navigating, they are “really on board with balancing outreach between keeping everyone safe and well. We are doing all we can right now.”
More information is at www.semosafehouse.org.