Tucson domestic violence emergency shelter renovation will double capacity

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 5:20 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Emerge Center Against Domestic Abuse will soon be expanding its emergency shelter thanks to $3 million in donations.

COVID made it challenging to use the communal style shelter that has shared bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens.

“It was impossible to be able to stay there and keep everyone safe. In July of 2020 we moved everyone out of that facility into a non-congregate facility,” said Ed Sakwa, the CEO of Emerge.

He said the current facility being used is only temporary. Emerge decided its emergency shelter needed to pivot from being community-style. Single unit spaces will be built to help stop the spread of viruses like COVID while also providing privacy.

“They can exist in that space with privacy and confidentiality and be able to heal in a way that serves themselves and their children,” Sakwa said.

The renovation will increase the shelter from 13 to 28 units at a very critical time. The construction is expected to end in 15 months or less.

“The demand for shelter is up. We have 70 people in shelter on any given night at this point and we’re seeing our hotline calls go through the roof. Even bigger than pre-pandemic numbers,” he said.

Sakwa said hotline calls are up about 25%, which is only the tip of the iceberg, since just 1 in 10 incidents of abuse are reported.

“Think about this as a community issue when it comes to how we can prevent it in the first place,” he said. “One day we’d like there to be the need for zero shelter beds in this community.”

Pima County, Tucson and an anonymous donor are each investing $1 million dollars towards the renovation. The anonymous donor’s challenge grant will give Emerge fifty cents for every dollar donated by the community. Learn how you can help here.

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