In New York City, there are an average of 700 domestic violence incidents a day, and at least 30% of the homeless families are in the shelter system for that reason. While many of the victims do find their way to emergency shelters, less than 11% are able to leave with the promise of safe housing. The result of this shortage of options means that abused women and their families must be housed in the general homeless system, double up with family or friends, or in the worst case, go back to the person who battered them.
New Destiny Housing, started in 1994, works to get victims of domestic violence settled in safe housing and eventually economically independent. Each year, New Destiny provides the support, resources and housing to help 2,400 families. The organization works to create safe and stable living situations in three ways — building, owning and operating housing, training and providing information to the victims of domestic violence, and educating policy makers and the public about the issues.
To date, New Destiny Housing has developed 13 residential projects that house nearly 1000 people each year—with a 14th project under construction. In addition, they own and manage nine properties that house more than 500 people each year. And they’ve helped thousands more navigate New York City’s complex housing landscape through a web site, HousingLink, which is tailored to the needs of survivors.
Recognizing that providing four walls is not enough, New Destiny also offers critical support services that help residents get on the path to self-sufficiency. These include domestic violence counseling and safety planning, job training, employment coaching, family activities and social events. Says Carol Corden, Executive Director of New Destiny Housing Corporation, “The collateral damage of domestic violence is to the children. For most of us, home is a place where you can let the cares of the world disappear. But for these children, home is a battleground. So for them to be in a place like this lets them take a deep breath and let go of a lot of that anxiety. It’s an environment that lets children be children.”
For many years, Bank of America has supported New Destiny Housing with financial support, including philanthropic grants for general operating expenses. In addition, the bank provides capital funding to start the design process and undertake construction. According to Nereida Andino, Community Relations Manager at Bank of America, “Like many similar projects, a public/private partnership is needed to make this happen. But domestic violence is an important issue, and service-enriched permanent housing for this population is something the bank has strongly supported.”
In addition to the impact on individual lives, the housing built by New Destiny has an impact on the surrounding neighborhood. Their latest project, sited on what was a dirt parking lot, today houses an environmentally friendly eight-story building that will house 38 families. Says Corden, “New housing has a spillover effect, bringing in new businesses, retail, grocery stores. Plus the neighborhood gets safer, making it a better place for both the old and new residents.”
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