DVAM Celebrates 30 Years

For most people, October marks the beginning of Fall – also known as pumpkin spice season. For those of us who work with survivors of domestic violence, October marks the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). This year DVAM is celebrating its 30th anniversary and continues to raise awareness and unite individuals and organizations working on domestic violence issues during the month of October.

Over the last 30 years, a lot of work has been done to help survivors escape and to remain away from abuse. Yet, there is still a lot more to be done. Domestic Violence still claims the lives of many.  According to the American Psychology Association, on average, 3 or more women are murdered by their boyfriends or husbands.[1]

Although this statistic seems daunting, in 2016, DASH safely housed 126 adults and 231 children away from the threat of violence, prevented 390 survivors and their families from falling into homelessness, and educated 2,000 survivors and advocates about the housing protections afforded to victims under local and federal law. That is one less homicide, one less homeless family, one less victim but one more survivor.

By standing with survivors, together, as a community, we are creating a community where every home is a safe home.

[1] Intimate Partner Violence Facts & Resources. (2017). American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/topics/violence/partner.aspx?item=2


DASH Wellness Garden

DASH is excited to announce the unveiling of a new wellness garden at its Cornerstone residence in partnership with AvalonBay Communities, Studio39 Landscape Architecture and Ashton Manor Environmental!

DASH’s Cornerstone program provides access to 43-units of emergency-to-transitional safe housing and wrap around support services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their families in DC. In 2016, DASH’s Cornerstone program safely housed 159 survivors (62 Adults and 97 Children) away from the threat of violence while they rebuilt their lives on their own terms.

The project to renovate an underutilized outdoor space was spearheaded by AvalonBay Communities who brought on project partners Studio39 and Ashton Manor Environmental to design and construct a beautiful, multi-purpose outdoor wellness space for residents in DASH’s Cornerstone program. All of the project design, materials, and labor were generously donated through pro bono support from AvalonBay Communities, Studio39, Ashton Manor Environmental, and various local and national product vendors.

“We are so grateful to AvalonBay Communities, Studio39 Landscape Architecture, and Ashton Manor Environmental, our partners in this amazing effort. The wellness garden goes beyond aesthetics to provide a nurturing and re-centering space for the mind, body and spirit. Every detail encourages a deep sense of community while acknowledging the individual’s need for a meditative environment. In this garden, residents can work on remaining grounded in the midst of chaos knowing that HOME MEANS SAFETY,” said Koube Ngaaje, DASH’s Executive Director.

As we prepare to unveil our new space this week, we reflect on what this renovated outdoor space means to DASH- wellness, the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, garden, a rich, well-cultivated region. DASH Wellness Garden, a place to cultivate a healthy body and mind.


Meet DASH’s New Executive Director!

It’s a big year for DASH as we celebrate our 10-year anniversary and announce a new Executive Director! In August, DASH welcomed, Ms. Koube Ngaaje, to lead DASH and its innovative mission to provide access to safe housing and services for survivors and their families in DC as they rebuild their lives on their own terms.

Previously, as the Chief Operating Officer at the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) in Arlington, VA, Ms. Ngaaje oversaw a dramatic expansion in staff and services, successfully providing over 900,000 pounds of groceries each week to more than 6,000 people in need at 18 different distribution centers. Ms. Ngaaje is also on the board for the Alliance for Housing Solutions, which works to increase affordable housing availability in Arlington County and Northern Virginia.

“I was first drawn to DASH by the tremendous impact of the organization and now stand in awe of the strength and the dedication it took to deliver such quality services,” said Ms. Ngaaje in a press release.

DASH’s Founder, Peg Hacskaylo, who recently launched the National Alliance for Safe Housing (NASH) has transitioned from Executive Director to CEO to lead this national project to expand access to safe housing for survivors of domestic and sexual violence across the United States. 

DASH is looking forward to the future under the leadership of Ms. Ngaaje – but never forgetting how far it’s come as the largest dedicated safe housing provider for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their families in the District. As we continue to grow and expand as an organization, DASH is thankful for all its local and national supporters.


Celebrating 10-Years!

It has been 10-years since DASH first opened its doors to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in the District. When DASH was first founded, there were less than 50 beds in the city dedicated specifically for victims of domestic violence. Survivors with multiple barriers, including mental health and addiction issues, had even fewer options for safe housing options. The vision of DASH was, and still is, to create a culture where safe housing is a human right share by everyone.

In honor of our 10-year anniversary, we thought it would be appropriate to pay homage to our beginnings and how we have grown to become the largest dedicated safe housing provider for survivors and their families in the District.

In…

2006: DASH was founded by current CEO, Peg Hacskaylo, to address the lack of safe housing options for survivors of domestic violence.

2007: The Housing Resource Center, DASH’s first program, opens offering the first one-stop shop to help survivors access safe housing throughout the District.

2008: The Empowerment Project opened to provide scattered site transitional–to-permanent safe housing  for survivors and their families.

2009: Temporary housing program, Huruma Place, opened doubling the number of safe beds in the District from 48 to 96.

2010: The Cornerstone Program opened, replacing Huruma Place as the District’s largest safe housing facility.

2013: The Survivor Resilience Fund began its’ first stages of development. The program currently provides emergency financial relief for survivors of domestic violence to maintain their current housing.

2015: The National Alliance for Safe Housing (NASH) is launched to provide nationwide training and technical assistance to improve access to safe housing for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

2016: Evaluations of DASH’s programs and model demonstrate dramatic results for improved survivor safety, empowerment, and housing stability.

Today…

2017DASH celebrates 10 years as the largest dedicated safe housing provider for survivors and their families in Washington, DC!

Although there is still much more work to be done, we cannot help but celebrate all the successes we have had over the past 10 years. Here’s to many more safe nights, many more trained advocates, many more partnerships built, and to another 10 years.


DASH Featured in The Hill

The Hill recently featured a blog written by DASH’s Executive Director, Peg Hacskaylo, where she discussed the critical role “cash” plays in the lives of domestic violence survivors.

As the title of the blog states, “Cash is still king when it comes to keeping domestic violence survivors in their homes.” Survivors often find themselves facing financial hardships after their abuser is long gone as they work to recover from the financial abuse. As she highlights throughout her blog, even when survivors are able to remove their abuser from their lease, survivors are left with the responsibility of paying rent and any back pay due to the abuse.

Where do survivors turn to for help?

There are well known welfare programs like TANF that survivors can apply for financial assistance, but as DASH’S ED states, “many states choose not to continue providing cash assistance at the same level to poor families.”

This is where DASH’s ED stresses the importance of flexible funding programs so survivors can maintain their homes with their families. Flexible funding programs enable organizations to provide urgent cash assistance to those in need in areas they feel they need it (new tires, changing locks, daycare, etc.). An area of need that may seem unconnected to homelessness, i.e. new tires, is in fact, very much connected. For example, if a survivor was not able to drive their car to work because it needed new tires, but was not financially able to buy new tires, getting to work for the survivor would become extremely difficult. In the worst case scenario, losing their employment would become a reality. Now, their only source of income is gone. Flexible funding programs like DASH’s recently piloted Survivor Resilience Fund provide assistance in these gray areas.

DASH’s Survivor Resilience Fund (SRF), an innovative flexible funding program, was recently evaluated by researchers Dr. Cris Sullivan and Ms. Heather Bomsta from Michigan State University’s Consortium on Gender-based Violence. It was found that support through the SRF, “increased housing stability for 94 percent of the survivors that participated in the study.” The data from this study showed that flexible funding does in fact help survivors avoid homelessness.

“A one-time payment of as little as $200 to a family in need can be life-changing…”

If $200 is able to give a fresh start and a new beginning to survivors and their families, flexible funding should be considered and used as a tool to help survivors of domestic violence.

To read Peg Hacskylo’s full blog, click here: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/healthcare/300629-cash-is-still-king-when-it-comes-to-keeping-domestic-violence


DVAM: Past, Present and Future

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic Violence Awareness month, or DVAM for short, is a month that celebrates survivors. DVAM was created by the National Coalition for Domestic Violence, with those in mind who passed away from domestic violence (DV), those surviving from DV, and those who work together to end DV.  October 1987 was the first month DVAM was celebrated [1]. The U.S. Congress passed Public Law 101-112 in 1989, officially making October Domestic Violence Awareness Month 1.

Today, DVAM is celebrated all over the United States.  Locally, DVAM is celebrated by many non-profit organizations. DASH kicked off its celebration of DVAM, by partnering with the DC Coalition for Domestic Violence.  On September 27th, DASH staff and volunteers “Painted The Town Purple” at local metro stations by passing out postcards, purple buttons, and other #SpreadLoveDC resources to raise awareness among community members. If you would like to see photos of Paint The Town Purple, click here. Also, DASH’s Executive Director, Peg Hacskaylo was interviewed on NBC4 during their “Safe at Home” series where she discussed the lack of safe housing options for domestic violence survivors and highlighted resources in the local area for survivors and their families. If you would like to see this segment, click here

As we make our way through October, DASH will continue to celebrate DVAM through events like Purple Thursday (October 20th) and BalderDASH (October 27th). BalderDASH is our annual event to celebrate DVAM and to honor survivors and the impact of our safe housing programs in the community. To attend BalderDASH, find out more information here.  

Also, be sure to check out the National Domestic Violence Awareness Month Proclamation where President Obama officially proclaims October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and urges all Americans to take a stand against domestic violence. 

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[1] National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.nrcdv.org/dvam/DVAM-history


New Evaluation Report Released!

Over the last two years, DASH engaged Drs. Cris Sullivan and Nkiru Nnawulezi to conduct an evaluation of the DASH model. Dr. Sullivan, Director of Michigan State University’s Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence, is a national expert on evaluating the effectiveness of housing programs providing survivor-centered, empowering advocacy. Dr. Nnawulezi, who is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, conducts participatory research and evaluation studies with domestic violence shelters. Together, they designed a mixed-methods evaluation to explore the effectiveness of DASH Cornerstone Housing Program.

The DASH model is a value-based decision making and management model to working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The model is premised on three elements:

  1. Survivors with complex needs – often resulting from situations which involved multiple/sustained trauma, institutional oppression, and systemic marginalization – are best served through programs which are highly individualized, relational, and adaptable;
  2. The degree to which survivors present with such complex needs is inversely proportionate to the degree that program structure and service intensity that will effectively enable survivor safety and empowerment; and,
  3. Staff who work in such programs require an equivalent degree of autonomy, flexibility, and skill-building in order to implement such programs.

In other words, the best way to help people with complex needs is through a simple yet nuanced approach that supports both survivors, and their advocates, to be empowered and self-determining.

Drs. Sullivan and Nnawulezi developed a specific research model that examined the efficacy of the DASH model and structure and its impact on survivors’ ability to pursue longer-term safety and stability following their work with DASH.  Through the evaluation process, researchers working hand-in-hand with DASH staff and program participants developed a specialized evaluation instrument to measure the impact of DASH’s model on survivor outcomes.

This past month, DASH received the final evaluation report prepared by Dr. Nnawulezi. “We are really pleased to have evidence which supports our approach to working with survivors to achieve safety, empowerment, and self-determination,” said Peg Hacskaylo, DASH Executive Director.  

The final evaluation report can be read here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9iDJmqs9Mj_RzU2eU1kRVU4ZE0

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DASH is an innovator in providing access to safe housing and services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and their families, as they rebuild their lives on their own terms. We envision a culture where safe housing is a human right shared by everyone.


DASH Launches National Alliance for Safe Housing

We are excited to announce the launching of a new initiative, the National Alliance for Safe Housing (NASH)! The new alliance will work to provide greater access to safe housing for survivors of domestic and sexual violence across the United States. This project is the result of years of hard work – we will be collaborating with our partners at the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Volunteers of America Home Free in Portland, Oregon and the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The National Alliance for Safe Housing (NASH)’s overall goal is to ensure that survivors of domestic violence have access to a full range of housing options as they seek to rebuild their lives safely and free from abuse. “Despite the remarkable work done by so many homeless and victim services providers, for too many survivors, the safe housing and services they desperately need are fragmented, causing them to fall through the cracks,” said DASH Executive Director, Peg Hacskaylo. NASH will collaborate with a broad range of stakeholders in an attempt to close these gaps and create a spectrum of trauma informed safe housing for survivors including: domestic violence, sexual assault, and victim-specific housing programs, as well as homeless service providers and homeless Continuums of Care.

According to national statistics, survivors of domestic and sexual violence often face homelessness when leaving their abusive homes. On a one-day census among domestic violence programs last year, more than 36,000 survivors of domestic violence received safe housing (in shelters and transitional housing programs), but another 5,778 requests for housing went unmet (National Network to End Domestic Violence, 2014). “The amount of safe housing available to meet survivors’ demand is insufficient, meaning that many they are forced to find housing in homeless shelters or return to abusive partners for lack of availability,” said NASH Director, Larisa.

The new National Alliance for Safe Housing, or (NASH) has been made possible due to a multi-year, $900,000 grant from the Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women. We are so grateful for this opportunity.

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DASH is an innovator in providing access to safe housing and services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and their families, as they rebuild their lives on their own terms. We envision a culture where safe housing is a human right shared by everyone.


DASH Receives Outstanding Leadership Award!

We are excited to announce that DASH was recognized today by the Center for Nonprofit Advancement as the 2015 honorable mention recipient of the Gelman Rosenberg and Freedman EXCEL Award!

The EXCEL Award, launched by the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, spotlights outstanding nonprofit leadership in the Washington, DC region. The award recognizes leadership achievement in the areas of innovation, motivation,community building, ethical integrity and strategic leadership. The award Selection Committee, made up of distinguished members of the business, philanthropic and nonprofit community, searched for examples of outstanding leadership that have moved beyond the recommended best practices to bring new levels of engagement that deliver results for the organization.

“The EXCEL honorable mention speaks to the passion and hard-work of the DASH staff and Board of Directors. As an organization we are dedicated to providing low barrier safe housing and services to survivors of domestic violence and their families as they work to rebuild their lives on their own terms,” states Peg Hacskaylo, DASH Executive Director, “While there is still a troubling gap in housing services for survivors in the DC region – we are hopeful that collaborations with the Center for Nonprofit Advancement and other local partners will help us continue to address housing needs in a comprehensive manner and ensure that every survivor has access to the safe, affordable housing that they need.”

As the an Honorable Mention DASH will will receive a $1,000 professional development grant; communication exposure through print and social media; and training and development opportunities for the staff and Executive Director from the Center’s Learning & Leadership.

 

 

 


Celebrate #DVAM with DASH!

October is Domestic violence Awareness Month! For the next few weeks, we will be working with advocates across the country to raise awareness through events, rallies and campaigns. You are invited to join the District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH) as we stand up to domestic violence in our community.

  • 10/5 – Metro Awareness Day: Stop by the NoMa Metro Station before or after work to help #SpreadLoveDC and take a photo with our team!
  • 10/20 – BalderDASH!: Buy a ticket to our annual celebration at the Mansion on O Street and enjoy music, games and tours of the Mansion!
  • 10/22 – Purple Thursday: Wear purple to stand in solidarity with survivors of domestic violence. Tag @DASHDC and #PurpleThursday. Interested in hosting a fundraiser for Purple Thursday? Contact Jasmine at 202-462-3274 x227.