Thousands of Arizona abuse victims find shelter with aid from federal funds

phoenix shelter

A Phoenix resident rests under shade at the Human Services Campus. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP)

By Joan Jacobson

January 16, 2024

Nearly 16,000 victims of domestic abuse in Arizona, who were particularly vulnerable during the COVID pandemic, got support through $22.5 million in funds from the federal American Rescue Plan.

The funds provided emergency shelter, rent, payment of utility bills, counseling, and childcare. They also allowed support organizations to pay their workers, including vital shelter staff and helpline counselors.

Help throughout Arizona

Funding provided support throughout the state to both urban and rural residents:

  • In Maricopa County, $15 million was utilized through the county’s Department of Human Services
  • Shelters in urban and rural areas of Pinal, Pima, La Paz, Mohave, Gila, Coconino, Navajo, and Yavapai counties received $7.5 million

Support when it was most needed

The funding came at a time when it was desperately needed.

“We saw a profound increase in lethality and an increase in the severity of domestic violence,” says Jenna Panas, CEO of the nonprofit Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (ACESDV), one of the recipient organizations.

Close living quarters and lack of income made it difficult for victims to leave dangerous domestic situations. Available shelters had to be quickly reconfigured to make living quarters safe. Many families had to be housed individually in hotels. Those who found new homes needed help with rent and utilities.

“While the number of victims seeking help increased during the pandemic, private charitable donations to organizations like ACESDV decreased. The federal funds filled that gap and allowed people to experience safety in greater numbers,” Panas said.

In a recent press release posted by ACESDV, one survivor expressed gratitude to a Victim Services Specialist, saying, “We will be feeling the effects of your help and your agency’s help for the rest of our lives.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, help is available. For general resources, contact the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic at Acesdv.org.

For the domestic violence helpline, contact Acesdv.org/helpline, call 602-279-2980, or send an SMS text to 520-720-3383

Author

  • Joan Jacobson

    Joan Jacobson is a long-time journalist who has covered housing, neighborhoods, gentrification, and poverty programs. She has also written research studies about the high price of drinking water, vacant house programs, and a tax sale system that confiscates homes when owners can’t pay their taxes.

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