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Domestic violence shelter works outside the box to combat capacity issues

Safe Haven Ministries

Safe Haven Ministries is Kent County's largest domestic violence shelter. However, leaders say it's "almost always at capacity." WGVU talks with the organization about its creative strategies to ensure services.

Safe Haven Ministries is Kent County’s largest domestic violence shelter. In 2020 it served 79 households, providing 8,866 nights of safety.

However, Senior Program Director, Tara Aday, told WGVU this month the shelter is almost always at capacity. Winter weather can make this a bigger hurdle.

“As soon as the snow started to fall, we saw an uptick in individuals reaching out to us seeking shelter," Aday said.

Safe Haven said it is thinking creatively about how to service every person seeking resources, whether that’s helping survivors get out of county to other shelters or putting them up in a hotel room until a bed in its shelter becomes available.

The group has also made strategic partnerships with organizations like the Grand Rapids Public Library, holding office hours at its branches and training library staff to support patrons that present in a domestic violence crisis.

“Libraries act as a social safety net for us and so Grand Rapids Public Library absolutely plays that role in our community. There’s a lot of traffic there. There’s a lot of people that frequent the library that experience a multitude of crises. By us having office hours there and having a presence there, it just makes us more accessible," Aday said.

The shelter also offers virtual support through its web chat, phone and text service at 616-452-6664. From 2020-2021 it served more than 2,000 crisis contacts.

Aday told WGVU her team is determined to help everyone who seeks its services and is working with community stakeholders on a way to expand efforts.

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