WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) — The house, at an undisclosed location in Gloucester County, is surrounded by farmland.
And that’s a good thing. The people who stay there are escaping domestic or sexual violence and need to feel safe.
A federal grant is making it possible for the Avalon Center to expand its transitional housing program for those in need from the greater Williamsburg area and the Middle Peninsula.
The Williamsburg-based nonprofit organization piloted the program, named Next Step, last year by renting the Gloucester house with money from another grant.
The house served as a safe house for a woman and her baby. The Avalon Center spent six months providing wraparound services to help her get back on her feet. She felt safe enough to move in with her family when her abuser was arrested and became Next Step’s first success story, said Leslie Jingluski, Avalon’s community engagement coordinator.
It’s not clear exactly how many men, women and children the Avalon Center will be able to help with the grant because the resources are personalized to meet individual needs, but Jingluski said based on the outcome of the pilot, the number could be up to 100 people.
“Our survivor stories are never the same, so that is what makes these funds so wonderful,” Jingluski said in an email. “One size does not fit all, so we offer an individualized approach.”
The three-year grant is for $475,000 and comes from the U.S. Department of Justice through the Office of Violence Against Women. The Avalon Center is one of 68 organizations across the country to receive the grant funds.
The funds will be used to set up two single-family safe houses in the Greater Williamsburg area for survivors with children. The money also will provide survivors with rental assistance for a unit they choose, said Teresa L. Christin, executive director.
Survivors without children are eligible for rental assistance for a one-bedroom apartment.
The hope, Christin said, is that the Avalon Center, in partnership with Virginia Career Works, will prepare survivors to find a job and transition to their own permanent housing within six months to two years.
The center offers survivors various services including legal advocacy, counseling and transportation. The partnership will provide survivors with job training that will prepare them for higher-income jobs, so they earn enough to support themselves and their children if they have them.
The grant will help survivors in Williamsburg, James City County, York County, Poquoson, New Kent, West Point, Charles City, as well as the Middle Peninsula including Gloucester, Mathews, Middlesex, King and Queen, and King William counties. The Avalon Center helps more than 1,500 men, women and children each year.
The center has dual accreditation for domestic violence and sexual assault. It relies on funding from local, state and federal governments as well as donations from individuals, businesses, civic and religious groups.
The Avalon Center operates a confidential 24-hour hotline at 757-258-5051 for people experiencing interpersonal violence and in need of resources or intervention. To contact the office call 757-258-5022.