Karen Singer, CEO and President of YWCA Evanston/North Shore, inside an apartment that is part of their new longer-term housing program for survivors of domestic violence. Photo from YWCAENS

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With the opening of a 16-unit apartment building next month, YWCA Evanston/North Shore (YWCAENS) will become one of very few programs in the state of Illinois to offer longer-term housing and support for survivors of domestic violence.

For more than 30 years, YWCAENS has operated the only comprehensive domestic violence program in northeastern Cook County. YWCAENS has extensive expertise in serving survivors of domestic violence, providing 24-hour crisis intervention, emergency shelter, legal advocacy, and community counseling.

“One of our frustrations has been that without longer-term housing and support, families that leave an emergency shelter often have nowhere to go,” said Karen Singer, President and CEO of YWCAENS. “We have helped survivors address the initial crisis and trauma, and we continue to offer counseling, but without another stable place to live, survivors who leave the shelter may cycle through other temporary housing/shelter services and programs or return to their abusers.

“Being able to offer another solution to that problem is the realization of a long-held dream, and it will enable us to deepen our impact by enabling survivors of domestic violence to achieve long-term stability.”

Central to this longer-term housing program will be services and support provided by YWCA’s housing and employment specialist, who will serve as advisor and coach, offering resources and training and assisting clients in securing the permanent affordable housing and sustained employment that will enable them to move to independence.

This new program is consistent with best practices in the field – moving families into stable housing, then targeting the skills and resources necessary to build sustainable futures.

The first tenants, who will include clients from YWCA’s domestic violence program as well as clients from other domestic violence service providers, are expected to move into the building in mid-March.

While the building renovations are almost complete, there is a need for household items. YWCA Evanston/North Shore has established a gift registry to equip the units with all the necessities a survivor might need before she moves in: http://bit.ly/survivorgifts/.