Austin foundation helps provide free hotel rooms to domestic violence victims during COVID-19 pandemic

An Austin organization says the number of domestic violence cases is increasing under stay-at-home orders, so they're giving victims who feel trapped an escape.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Survive 2 Thrive Foundation has seen an uptick in the number of cases.

"We're finding that victims of domestic violence are not leaving their homes, they're actually staying in their violence because there's nowhere else for them to go," foundation CEO Courtney Santana said. "This is true of any periods of isolation or intense financial stress, you'll find out when there's times where, like, there's a quick turnaround on unemployment, like very fast, you'll find an uptick in domestic violence."


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Santana says the foundation has partnered with the Austin Hotel and Lodging Association to create the "Sanctuary Program," which provides victims of domestic violence an up-to-two-week stay in a hotel room for free.

"We're creating what we consider a safety net for our survivors with local hotels that are in the Austin area, to provide them the space for, one so they can practice social distancing, and to get out of their domestic violence and get out of their violent homes," Santana said.

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Santana says during their stay, the victims are provided clothes, food and water, and a caseworker to help plan out their next steps. "They can't stay in the hotel forever. So where are they going to go after this? And how can we start that path, away from violence and back to self-sufficiency, even amid this pandemic," she said.

Santana says during these uncertain times, many survivors have turned to her foundation as a way out, even victims from other states. She hopes this new program helps even more people. "We're providing them an opportunity to leave permanently, which is what we really wanted, at the end of the day," Santana said.

To learn more about the program and the foundation, visit Survive 2 Thrive's website.


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