The Advocates for Survivors of Domestic Violence, a nonprofit based in Hailey, is hoping to raise funds to expand its housing and overall operations to keep up with an increasing demand for services.
“Our shelter has been so full at times we have had to put people in hotels,” said Advocates CEO Tricia Swartling. “We have wait lists for our apartments and more property adjacent to our existing property. We have the capacity to expand.”
Swartling said the organization has hired an architect to draw up preliminary plans for a $12 million expansion that would add 16-20 new apartments, an early learning center for children ages from birth to age 5, new client services community center, and four units of employee housing. The nonprofit has hired a consultant to determine how successful a fundraising effort would be to achieve these goals, she said.
The Advocates operates on a $2.4 million annual budget with 42 staff members. The organization maintains 22 transitional housing apartments and a seven-bedroom house as an emergency shelter for “active abusive situations.” The Advocates’ current headquarters and transitional housing buildings cost $5.5 million to construct, Swartling said. The former opened in October 2020 and the latter the next fall.
Swartling said there was an 80% increase in the use of The Advocates emergency short term housing from July 2022 through March 2023 compared to the same period the previous year.
“And we now have 15 people on a waiting list for transitional housing,” Swartling said. “The worst-case scenario is if they are in an unsafe situation.”
The expansion would turn the Advocates headquarters into an early learning center, and add a new space next door, but bigger, with a conference room and a youth-friendly servicing space that Advocate’s youth activists would design. The top two floors would be 16-20 new apartments.
“We also own an apartment building down the street that has four units and we’re hoping to transition those to staff housing,” Swartling said.
Swartling said The Advocates shelter and transitional housing is only available to clients who have experienced some form of relationship or sexual abuse, which she said amounts to one in three women and perhaps one in six men.
“Ninety-five percent of the people we help are female identified, but we have men in our transitional housing now,” said Swartling. “Last year out of 503 adult clients, 23 were men, and one was a transgender client.”
Advocates clients pay rent in transitional housing based on federal criteria that limits monthly housing expenses to no more than 30% of income, which she said averages out to about $220 per month per client.
“You can’t find a cheaper place to live,” she said.
Transitional housing last week had 22 adults and 15 kids, and “lots of cats and dogs,” she said.
Swartling said the expansion would help to address an affordable housing shortage that has kept some clients longer than expected in transitional housing, which is meant to prepare them for financial independence.
“Right now there is a bottle-neck,” she said. “We have someone who just got their own apartment after three years.”
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