CHICAGO — Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced a $235,000 federal grant for the Chicago Department of Human Services (CDHS) Victims of Domestic Violence Project that will enable CDHS to provide domestic violence services to homeless victims in need.
“It’s an awful tragedy when you’ve lost your home and a shelter is the only safe place where you can stay. But if you and your children have also been abused you need additional help quick. These funds will let us continue to give treatment, counseling and legal help to hundreds of women and children in Chicago,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
The Victims of Domestic Violence Project will be supported with Victim of Crime Act grant funding, administered by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority several times since 1997. Nearly 2,000 victims are expected to receive domestic violence services through this initiative.
CDHS homeless advocates have encountered an increasing need for specialized domestic violence services in recent years. According to Illinois State Police’s figures, 71,710 domestic offenses were reported to police in Chicago in 2003, and 12,371 victims were served in the city by domestic violence programs, including 3,442 children. In addition to that, Chicago represented almost 70 percent of the total number of households citing domestic violence statewide.
Studies made by the Illinois Department of Human Services indicate that overcrowding and family disputes, neighborhood conditions such as gang violence, and domestic violence contributed to homelessness for 21 percent of households on DHS’ Emergency Food and Shelter program.
According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, in 2001 approximately half of all women and children experiencing homelessness are fleeing domestic violence.
Victims flee from their abusers to shelters provided by the city. This funding will allow five domestic violence advocates to be available at shelters throughout Chicago. They will link this traditionally underserved population of victims with the specialized domestic violence services they need, including crisis counseling, group treatment, legal and personal advocacy, and the provision of victim information and referrals.
“It is so important to not only provide shelter, but address the violent situations from which these victims are fleeing,” said Authority Executive Director Lori G. Levin. “The counseling, court and personal advocacy, and housing placement services provided through this project create a foundation for these victims as they struggle to start over in a safer environment.”
CDHS shelter intake workers will be trained to identify battered victims and refer them to an in-house domestic violence advocate. The advocate will then begin to apply strategies that will eliminate the numerous barriers these victims face as they move toward self-sufficiency.
Third-party advocacy also will be provided on behalf of the victims as they deal with law enforcement personnel, domestic violence service agencies and shelters, employers, schools, day care providers, and landlords.