Getting Answers: Northampton emergency shelter for domestic violence survivors closes its doors

Safe Passage of Northampton has announced they have shut the doors of their emergency shelter for domestic violence victims.
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 4:46 PM EDT
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NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Safe Passage of Northampton has announced they have shut the doors of their emergency shelter for domestic violence victims.

Safe Passage said they’ve come to this decision after they conducted research that said their resources can be more effectively spent on long term solutions to help domestic violence survivors.

The organization has spent the past few months to help find affordable housing or short-term hotel stays to help the domestic violence survivors they serve.

Executive Director of Safe Passage of Northampton Marianne Winters told Western Mass News the shelter model has made it more difficult to provide long-term solutions for those who need help.

“When we first opened back in 1977,” said Winters. “Congregate living shelter is kind of a short-term convenience for people who could get resettled within a month or two ago. Now, as a place to live for more than a year, which is what the average says it just, increases the trauma the difficulty interrupts, the whole family’s life essentially for that period of time.”

According to Winters, it cost around $700,000 to $800,000 a year to keep their shelter fully staffed and take care of impacted families.

Winters explained moving away from the shelter model and spending that money on affordable housing advocacy, and field strategies can create better outcomes for victims of domestic violence.

“Domestic violence is for many survivors’ is kind of before, and after, right? Their life before domestic violence, and then after,” said Winters. “So, when someone has to then has to be temporarily house for an unknown period of time, try to regenerate all of the things that they have in their lives, but no, they can’t really commit to it either, it’s an interruption.”

However, housing in Northampton, both affordable and market price, is hard to come by.

Northampton city councilor at large Marissa Elkins told us it’s an issue the city is all too familiar with, they hope to work with safe passage to find shelter for those in need.

“What is striking to me about what Safe Passage is up against is the ways in which the housing crisis spills into so many other issues that we care about and how much it says, but how hard are we need to work to address that need,” said Elkins.

Northampton Safe Passage told us they will continue to serve those survivors of domestic violence who need a place to stay.