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Local shelters lack funding to house victims amid COVID-19 crisis

Posted at 3:53 PM, Mar 23, 2020

HAMPTON ROADS, Va.— While the CDC’s guidelines for social distancing remain in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, victim advocates fear vulnerable populations will be at greater risk of isolation with their abuser.

Samaritan House Executive Director Robin Gauthier says they are adjusting to the new challenges created by coronavirus, but people can still come into their office.

“Anyone can walk in there and speak to a victim advocate or speak to an intake worker and do a safety plan and talk about what’s going on in their home and what services they need.”

The organization serves people who are experiencing sexual assault, domestic violence, human trafficking and homelessness and they expect those populations to face greater hardships during the coronavirus crisis.

The best way to reach Samaritan House is through their hotline at 757-430-21-20. Someone will be available to answer your call 24/7. They’ll assess the situation and schedule appointments if necessary.

“We anticipate that there’s going to be an increase in violence because of all the people staying at home and isolation that’s occurring and the difficulties... the [financial] stress families are in.”

Gauthier says Samaritan House is already seeing more calls from homeless citizens who say they can’t find housing.

Samaritan House is limiting their shelters to two families per home to abide by Governor Ralph Northam’s orders to limit gatherings to 10 people.Samaritan House is now worried about footing the bill to house families that can’t stay in their shelters in hotels/motels in the meantime.

“By next Friday, we will have exhausted all of our hotel funding for the year— three months early. Because of this, we are needing financial assistance to keep the nine families in hotels that are not in shelter now because we are limiting our space.”

The YWCA in Norfolk faces a similar crisis. They’re also housing victims in hotels— putting a large financial burden on the organization.

Samaritan House says it costs $350 a week to house a family outside of the shelter, and they’re actively looking for anyone who can assist with the cost with putting up a family.

Click herefor more information about Samaritan House.

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