Portsmouth – HAVEN, the state’s largest nonprofit organization for victims of sexual assault and family violence, has announced plans to create a central hub in Portsmouth for all support services, including temporary housing.
The agency focuses on violence prevention, emergency response, and programs for those impacted by sexual assault and domestic abuse. HAVEN was awarded a $2 million HUD grant to support the new center.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was instrumental in securing the funding and visited HAVEN Friday to announce the award.
Says Senator Shaheen, “As we continue to see the lingering impact of the pandemic on survivors of domestic and sexual violence, it’s crucial that local crisis centers have the resources to adequately support those in need. Access to housing is a significant barrier for survivors looking to leave abusive households and find safety. I am proud to have secured funding to support HAVEN’s efforts to expand their emergency shelter and increase access to their services.”
Shaheen spent the afternoon at HAVEN’s office in Portsmouth talking to staff and learning more about how the federal government can help.
“Mental health and housing are the two critical pieces that need support,” HAVEN Executive Director Kathy Beebe told Senator Shaheen; “We anticipate that this grant will help us create a model for northern New England of best practices for addressing family violence and sexual assault. Having a primary location with expanded and consolidated services will enable us to most effectively serve almost a third of the state.”
The nonprofit organization serves approximately 20 thousand people each year, including K-12 violence prevention education programs.
Beebe says the traditional model of providing a confidential emergency shelter for survivors is no longer the preferred standard.
“Experience has shown that creating a dignified environment for healing where individuals and families have a private living space and access to an array of services is the approach we need to pursue,” Beebe said. “This new model addresses the existing barriers many survivors face; including childcare issues, food insecurity, housing, and mental health. Our goal is to transition people into independent living and this is the best way to do that.”
HAVEN is currently seeking a location in Portsmouth that can accommodate the new center. Preliminary plans are for a facility that will include office space for the growing staff, provide confidential meeting and education space, and an attached temporary housing structure that would provide 13 units of emergency housing. HAVEN will continue to have satellite offices in Epping and Rochester.
Serving all of New Hampshire’s growing Seacoast region, including both heavily populated Rockingham and Strafford Counties, HAVEN currently provides 24-hour shelter and crisis support services for survivors, in addition to leading outreach and violence prevention education, starting at local elementary schools. The agency employs 36 people but is expected to grow as the need for services and outreach has increased.
Lynda Ruel, Director of the NH Attorney General’s Victim/Witness Assistance Unit says, “As someone who engages with survivors of crime throughout New Hampshire daily, I can firmly say HAVEN saves lives and has become a crucial and heavily utilized community resource for so many affected by domestic and sexual violence. Simply put, they make the Seacoast and the Granite State a safer place to live, work, and visit.”
HAVEN has a 44-year track record of providing prevention and intervention with individuals who have experienced trauma and improving the safety and physical and mental health of youth and adults in the community. HAVEN is the result of a merger in 2015 of A Safe Place and SASS (Sexual Assault Support Services).
For more information visit www.havennh.org