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Biden helps break ground for new domestic violence shelter

Fri, Jan 31, 2014

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Vice President Joe Biden broke ground November 25 on the first domestic violence shelter to open in Chicago in more than a decade. The ceremony launched construction of the new, two-story WINGS Metro facility on the Southwest Side. In addition to a 40-bed domestic violence shelter, WINGS Metro will have retail and resale shops, offices, and social services for clients.

“In building this shelter, you are preventing so much by ending the cycle of abuse, providing an alternative to the street, bringing an end to the psychological damage being done to the children, and just maybe preventing a homicide,” Vice President Biden said.

“Domestic violence victims should never have to hide in the shadows or suffer in silence,” Mayor Emanuel said. “This new facility is more than a place for shelter; it’s an opportunity for a chance at a new life for victims and their families. The City of Chicago will continue to work toward increasing access to resources and fostering future opportunities for families who have been affected by domestic violence.”

Mayor Emanuel and Vice President Biden worked together to craft the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994. The landmark federal legislation developed a comprehensive approach to improve the criminal justice response to violence against women. The VAWA created the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which receives 22,000 calls a month, and it ensures that abusers cannot use immigration status to prevent victims from calling police. VAWA funds train over 500,000 law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges and other personnel each year.

The new WINGS Metro shelter will be built by a partnership that includes Women in Need Growing Stronger (WINGS), Metropolitan Family Services, and the Greater Southwest Development Corporation. WINGS Metro will serve as many as 100 families in its first full year of operation and will increase available beds in the City of Chicago by almost 36 percent, (from 112 to 152). It is scheduled to open in June 2014.

Domestic violence shelters can be challenging environments for many families. WINGS Metro will include three innovative program components that set it apart from other facilities: domestic violence shelter suites; a street-level retail or resale shop; and permanent housing units.

The suite-based design ensures that each family will have its own bedroom and that only two families will share each bathroom.

“This innovative suite-based shelter design coupled with social services will benefit domestic violence victims for years to come, said Evelyn Diaz, commissioner of the Department of Family and Support Services.

The first-floor retail or resale business will be open to the public and will generate income for the shelter operation. There will also be at least three permanent housing units.

The partnership with Metropolitan Family Services also gives WINGS Metro clients access to comprehensive legal advocacy and legal services as well as two early childhood education sites within walking distance. Greater Southwest Development Corporation (GSDC) provides housing counseling, financial coaching, employment services, income support screening and computer training.

Construction will cost $4.2 million. The City of Chicago will contribute $1.8 million from its settlement of a lawsuit against the VIP

Gentleman’s Club. The City also donated $500,000 worth of vacant land. The partnership is fundraising for the remainder.

Chicagoans can report domestic abuse by calling 9-1-1. The domestic violence help line at 877-863-6338.

Suzanne Hanney
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