IT TAKES A VILLAGE

Safe Sleep for Women: A Story of Success

By Irit Umani, Director of Trinity Center

In response to a critical shortage of overnight accommodations for homeless women, the staff of Trinity Center initiated a city-wide service providers’ meeting to address the urgent need for this vulnerable population. The initial meeting took place in July with the intention of coming to an agreement on an action plan rather than to remain frustrated. In less than two months, we launched the Safe Sleep for Women pilot program.

St. David’s led the way as the first church to respond. First United Methodist, St. Martin Lutheran, First Baptist, and University Baptist churches soon joined. A 10-week pilot program, with each church committed to two weeks, was formed. Together, we offer homeless women, who are otherwise in great danger, an indoor, safe place to sleep.

We are now in the third week of the pilot with up to 46 women. Their appreciation is very deep. One of the women recently gave me a note: “Traveling from Arizona bound for Austin I knew I could feel the freedom – when I prayed to God for help – and He led me to Trinity Center. They opened their door for me. Without the resources they offer, I would not have been able to make it. Women’s days, a safe place to sleep, food, and other basic needs are provided. God creates pockets of safety! And this is the one place that felt like home. Thank you!”

While this short-term solution was created, members of the coalition of service providers worked diligently on a long-term solution. We have successfully advocated for additional funding in the coming bond election for the expansion of the existing shelter for women and children. Salvation Army, with the help of City Council members, is expanding its current capacity by 35 beds to shelter single women. At the end of this collaborative effort the number of beds available in Austin to single, homeless women and to homeless women with children will triple!

Thank you to all who support this program, and we will keep you informed of opportunities to volunteer as this program continues.