In her nearly four years as executive director of Riverview Center, Joey Taylor has watched many clients struggle to find a safe, stable place to live.
“The clients that we serve that are victims of sexual and domestic violence, hands down the number one barrier they face is housing issues,” she said.
Now, the organization has received a substantial federal grant to help provide transitional housing assistance for those clients.
Riverview Center was awarded a $575,000 grant from the Office on Violence Against Women, which will provide survivors of sexual or domestic violence with six to 24 months of rent assistance. Those receiving aid also will have access to resources such as medical, legal and social service advocacy, counseling and educational/occupational support.
Riverview Center serves 14 counties in northeast Iowa, as well as Jo Daviess and Carroll counties in Illinois. Of the about 1,600 people that the nonprofit served last year, Taylor said, about 10% faced emergency housing issues.
“It’s quite startling how many people who struggle with homelessness … have a history of sexual violence committed against them at some point in their lives,” she said.
The nonprofit works with many community partners, including Dubuque Community YMCA/YWCA Victim Services Shelter, Opening Doors and Almost Home, to address housing needs for clients. Taylor said the three-year grant will allow Riverview Center to expand these partnerships and reach additional clients who have unique needs or might not qualify for other housing programs.
For example, she noted that families in need of housing assistance who don’t want to be separated might be sent to shelters or programs in other communities if local options are full. Now, grant funding could help those individuals pay for an apartment so they can remain in the Dubuque area, maintaining stability in both employment and education.
In addition, program participants will have access to Riverview Center’s counseling and advocacy support services. They also will receive educational and occupational skills resources from IowaWORKS and Business Employment Skills Team, an Illinois-based employment search service.
“Long-term support for survivors requires a broad range of services, and our IowaWORKS offices are pleased to be able to help them find the long-term outcomes they need,” said Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development, in a press release.
Taylor said the program should launch around Dec. 1.
“This will allow us to really assist not only with emergency and transitional housing, but also to get people to a place where they can be gainfully employed,” she said.