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Shreveport domestic violence program, safe house to close by the end of May

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(Photo source: KTBS 3 News) (Photo source: KTBS 3 News)
SHREVEPORT, La -

Funding woes are behind the impending closure of the Providence House Domestic Violence Program and Safe House.

Due to programmatic and financial constraints, the Providence House Board of Directors has concluded that Providence House can no longer manage the Domestic Violence Program and Safe House.

Therefore, the Safe House and Domestic Violence Program will close on May 31st. The last client will be accepted into the Safe House on April 30th, with the final client departure no later than May 25, 2014.

"This has been a difficult decision that we have struggled with and which has weighed heavily on our hearts. It has not come easy," said Providence House Executive Director, Simone Hennessee. "Providence House believes that it is critical to have a Domestic Violence program located in Shreveport/Bossier, and a smooth transition of clients is our highest priority."

In response to the community crisis created by the closure of the YWCA in 2009, Providence House stepped in to operate the Domestic Violence Program and Safe House.

Over the last 5 years, Providence House has served a total of 2,166 people in 563 families that included 563 adults, 1119 children and 484 single women.

The Domestic Violence Program has provided 77,122 nights of safety and 825 restraining orders.

Prior to operating the Domestic Violence Program, Providence House was not involved in and not designed to focus on the issues surrounding supporting the victims of domestic violence.

Since operating the program, Providence House has learned that while homelessness and domestic violence are often related, they are also distinct and the needs of each population are different.

In particular, many of the victims of domestic violence who shelter in the Safe House suffer from a host of other challenges for which Providence House is not fully staffed or programmatically equipped to respond.

The Domestic Violence Program is a short term program which requires a separate location and distinct staff, trained to respond specifically to the trauma of domestic violence and guided by the federal and state standards for quality assurance.

Since beginning the Domestic Violence program Providence House has secured $2,307,701 in funding and spent $2,567,743 for an operating loss of $260,042.

Providence House is unable to continue to operate the Domestic Violence Program at a loss without impacting its ability to sustain its core program and mission: breaking the homeless cycle for families with children.

"The Providence House Board of Directors has an obligation to ensure the financial health and long term stability of Providence House. Throughout its history, Providence House has helped many families transition from homelessness and hopelessness to a life of sustained independence, and we want to make sure that we are in a position to continue to do so well into the future," said Dr. Sue Seiler-Smith, Providence House Board President.

Providence House is currently in conversation seeking support and assistance from the city, state and the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence to ensure that during the transition to another organization, no Domestic Violence survivor will go without the help necessary to remain safe.

Providence House is committed to working with the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence and any organization in the future to help make a transition from Providence House or provide any guidance that is necessary.

Due to state and federal regulations, Providence House has no control over who will operate the Domestic Violence program locally going forward.  

Any organization wishing to administer this program, and receive state and federal funding, must be a member and approved by LCADV (Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence) to ensure that the federal and state standards for quality assurance are followed.

Anyone interested can visit the LCADV website at lcadv.org for more information or contact Beth Meeks, Executive Director of LCADV at (225) 752-1296 or P.O. Box 77308, Baton Rouge, LA 70879.

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ABOUT PROVIDENCE HOUSE: The singular aim of Providence House is to break the cycle of homelessness by helping families gain the resources necessary to move permanently to independent living. Providence House measures its success ultimately by the number, frequency and continued success rate of families graduating from the program. Over the last 25 years Providence House has enabled 408 families - which includes 451 adults, 884 children, and 28 single women - for a total of 1363 people to graduate and move to independent living with a current success rate of 92%.

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