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Washtenaw United: SafeHouse Center Continues Full Service To Survivors Despite Impacts Of Pandemic

Barbara Niess-May
SafeHouse Center

SafeHouse Center provides emergency shelter and an array of services to survivors on domestic violence and sexual assault in Washtenaw County.  Like all other service agencies, the pandemic has an effect on the way it conducts its business and on the bottom line.  In this week's "Washtenaw United," SafeHouse Center executive director Barbara Niess-May discusses maintaining vital and essential services during a public health crisis. 

WEMU has partnered with the United Way of Washtenaw Countyto explore the people, organizations, and institutions creating opportunity and equity in our area.  And, as part of this ongoing series, you’ll also hear from the people benefiting and growing from the investments being made in the areas of our community where there are gaps in available services.  It is a community voice.  It is 'Washtenaw United.'


She is the executive director of SafeHouse Center based out of Ann Arbor.  David and Barbara have known each other for 15 years...


SafeHouse Center

Statement by SafeHouse on the August murder of Courtney Neely, a survivor, in Ypsilanti


UWWC, through the Washtenaw Coordinated Funders, is a longtime funder of SafeHouse Center.  Through Coordinated Funding, SafeHouse is presently supported through an multi-year grant totaling nearly $94k to support its shelter operations. 

UWWC most recently invested $15,000 in SafeHouse through our COVID-19 Community Relief Fund to ensure continuity of operations during the pandemic.  SafeHouse has historically relied on the help of close to 300 volunteers to help with services who were unavailable to support the organization once the pandemic hit.  Staff then had to fill the 24-hour services by working overtime.  That amount of overtime was not part of their projected budget for the fiscal year so the grant helped cover that cost.  SafeHouse is unfortunately beginning to see an increase in survivors needing financial assistance through their Fresh Start Fund, which pays for things like a month’s rent, utility payment, and copies of birth certificates.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
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