The Women of DASH

This March, we are celebrating the women of DASH — what moves us, what drives us, what inspires us. It is this that fuels our work to ensure that no woman has to choose between staying in an abusive relationship and becoming homeless.

DASH is an organization founded by women, run by women, to keep survivors safe. We are the only domestic violence housing program in DC that welcomes all survivors – regardless of gender identity, however, 95% of survivors in our programs identify as women.

As a safe housing organization, our Building Monitors do invaluable work ensuring that our Cornerstone residence is secure. Their constant vigilance can go unnoticed, but it is their attentiveness that keeps every survivor feeling safe at Cornerstone.

This week, we are featuring our Building Monitor, Linda!

Linda has worked at DASH since 2017. Jessy, our Development & Volunteer Coordinator, sat down with Linda to hear stories about Linda’s experience at DASH and what she values about this work.

Let’s celebrate together this month of March!

#WomensHistoryMonth #WHM2019 #dashdc #womenofdash

Teen Domestic Violence Awareness Month

In addition to Black History Month, the month of February is also recognized as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.  

We are constantly inundated with messages and images of what dating and relationships look like, whether it’s through families, friends, school, work, or even Netflix. This messaging may not always be healthy, and it’s important that we impart knowledge and tools with our teens and young adults so that they can identify the difference between healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships.  

Healthy-Unhealthy-Abusive Spectrum 

Not all healthy relationships look the same; however, there are several key elements that make a relationship a healthy one, which include but are not limited to, respect, open and clear communication, equality, and trust. Ultimately, this looks differently for everyone, but boils down to the capacity to make decisions together and have honest communication about anything from relationship concerns and choices about sexual practices. Individuals ought to be responsible for their own happiness, but also enjoy spending time together.  

A relationship that is unhealthy can take the form of one partner trying to make the majority of the decisions and/or pressuring someone into spending all of their time together.  

Just as domestic violence takes many forms, as does dating violence. This is also to say that violence and abuse are not always physical, but can range from physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, digital abuse, stalking, and/or financial abuse.  In general, “abusive relationships are based on an imbalance of power and control” ( Some signs of this kind of relationship can include manipulation, isolation, and accusations. What this can turn into is a relationship in which “one person is making all of the decisions – about sexual choices, friend groups, boundaries, even what’s true and what’s not [gaslighting]. You spend all of your time together and feel like you can’t talk to other people, especially about what’s really happening in your relationship” ( This last element is particularly problematic because people being abused feel like they have no one to turn to, and end up not seeking help because they feel powerless or ashamed.  

Seeking Help 

If any of these unhealthy or abusive signs ring true with you, first, know that you are not alone. One in three teens in the United States will experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse by someone they are in a relationship with before they become adults ( The next step is to reach out. Reach out to someone you trust to explain what’s going on and acknowledge the situation. From there, you can seek resources to help you address what’s going on and deal with relationship abuse in the ways that you choose to.  

Unhealthy and abusive relationships can be confusing especially for those with minimal access to models of healthy relationships. But there are plenty of resources out there to help.  

Resources (24 Hour Hotline: Call 1-866-331-9474) 

Trevor Project: (24 Hour Hotline for LGBTQ Youth: Call 1-866-488-7386)

The Importance of the Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was originally enacted in 1994 as a much needed response to domestic and sexual violence trending nationwide. VAWA was the first piece of federal legislation that addressed violence against women specifically by instituting “enhanced sentencing of repeat federal sex offenders; mandated restitution to victims of specified federal sex offenses; and authorized grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement entities to investigate and prosecute violent crimes against women.”1  Since then, VAWA has gone through several iterations as it has been re-authorized in 2000, 2005, 2013, and most recently an extension was filed through December 21, 2018; but the vote has since been stalled in the House and has since expired amid the government shutdown. 

“’Don’t let this go unnoticed: the Violence Against Women Act, which helps survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, expired with the government shutdown,’ Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tweeted on Sunday [December 23], adding, ‘It’s deeply concerning.’ Actor and Me Too activist Alyssa Milano added her disappointment, tweeting: ‘What kind of country allows its Violence Against Women Act to expire?’”2  

Prior to this landmark legislation’s passage in 1994, private resources were used to create makeshift shelters. It wasn’t until the passage of VAWA that the federal government took up a role in leadership and funding toward addressing domestic violence. We know now what they didn’t then: 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men in the United States have been victims of domestic violence in their lifetimes.  

Since VAWA’s implementation, the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) has awarded $7 billion to government agencies, local nonprofit organizations, and universities to address domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. Importantly, VAWA “made a big difference by directing substantial new resources to local domestic violence programs. Also, VAWA funded communities to develop coordinated responses. It encouraged essential collaborations between law enforcement, community based services, child welfare, and other key players in the community.”3  

Among many other protections, the current bill “increases funding for sexual assault centers and expands the law related to removing guns from convicted abusers. We should all implore Congress to act on the reauthorization of VAWA. As it becomes clearer that, according to a new study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the least safe place for women globally is in the home, it is essential that our politicians take seriously the issues of domestic and sexual violence and not let political division disrupt these much-needed services.”4  

Just yesterday, the official swearing-in ceremony of the 116th Congress ushered in the most diverse Congress the United States has seen, including several firsts — the youngest Congresswoman, the first two Muslim women, and the first two Native American women serving in the House of Representatives. It is with this new wave of representation that we can have hope that our government will work toward the reauthorization of VAWA in the new year.  



DASH Among First to Receive Grant from Bezos Day 1 Families Fund

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos donate $97.5 million to 24 nonprofits across the U.S. working on family homelessness

Washington, DC – Nov. 20, 2018 – The District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH) announced today that it is one of the first grantees to receive $2.5 million in funding from the Day 1 Families Fund to expand the reach of critical services DASH provides to over 2,000 survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their families in the Washington, D.C. area. The fund was created by Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos last September to fight homelessness.

DASH is Washington’s largest dedicated safe housing provider for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their children, providing an innovative approach for serving those who have traditionally faced challenges accessing mainstream shelter programs. By providing low-barrier housing, helping survivors avoid homelessness to live free from abuse and engaging policymakers, DASH is leading at the nexus of survivor support and housing services.

“Our goal is to shift the conversation from one about ‘battered women’s shelters’ to one about concrete action and sustainable, safe housing solutions for survivors and their families,” said Koube Ngaaje, Executive Director of DASH. “This grant from the Day 1 Families Fund will help us march toward our goal to make safe housing more accessible and ultimately less necessary in the future.”

Specifically, support from the Day 1 Families Fund will:

  • double the reach of the Empowerment Project from 15 to 30 recipients, providing rental subsidies that allow survivors to repair their credit, save, and ultimately assume rent payments themselves to achieve long-term housing stability;
  • double the impact of the Survivor Resilience Fund from 50 to 100 families a year who will avoid losing their housing, becoming homeless, or entering the shelter system; and
  • provide funding for DASH’s Cornerstone program building loan, creating a ripple effect that will direct savings to help fund other DASH programs and kick-start a capital campaign to retire the loan entirely.

 “While at DASH, I used every resource available to me. I worked with my advocate who found resources for employment, school, and permanent housing,” said Tasha, a 28-year-old abuse survivor with a young son. Today Tasha has a new career as a Certified Nurse Assistant and has moved into her own, permanent housing. “The DASH program has changed me as a mother and even as a person and the way I think today.” 

“This grant is a game-changer for the services we can provide to the city and its residents,” said Ngaaje. “DASH currently provides 50 percent of the city’s safe housing units. In 2017, 43 percent of unmet requests from DC domestic violence survivors were for housing. This funding will help ensure we move even closer to meeting the needs of our residents – and all survivors in the D.C. metro area – so that no survivor ever has to go without a safe place to sleep.”

 DASH is one of 24 nonprofits to receive the first Day 1 Families Fund grants, totaling $97.5 million. Recipients from around the country include: Abode Services, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami, Catholic Community Services of Western Washington, Community of Hope, Community Rebuilders, Crossroads Rhode Island, District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH), Emerald Development & Economic Network (EDEN) Inc., FrontLine Service, Hamilton Families, Heartland Family Service, Housing Families First, JOIN, LA Family Housing (LAFH), Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS), Primo Center for Women and Children, Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA), SEARCH Homeless Services, Simpson Housing Services, The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte, The Salvation Army of Greater Houston, UMOM New Day Centers and Urban Resource Institute (URI).

Founded by Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, the Bezos Day One Fund consists of two programs: the Day 1 Families Fund that provides grants to nonprofit organizations fighting homelessness, and the Day 1 Academies Fund that will fund and build a network of pre-schools in low-income communities across the country. The Day 1 Families Fund’s vision comes from the inspiring Mary’s Place in Seattle: no child should sleep outside. A small group of expert advisors provided input to the Bezos Day One Fund team to select these organizations. The Day 1 Families Fund will be awarding grants annually. For more information, visit

About DASH
Founded in 2006, DASH works to ensure access to safe and sustainable housing for all survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their families in the District of Columbia, through transitional and long-term safe housing and innovative homelessness prevention services. DASH works to create a culture where safe housing is a human right shared by everyone. For more information about the District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH) and ways to get involved, visit

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.

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.


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.


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:

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. 


[1] National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. (2012). Retrieved from