Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center receives $15K for housing, classrooms, childcare
The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) gave $250,000 to agencies to help meet growing needs during a pandemic. In a highly competitive application process, Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center (HCWC) made the cut.
“It was really competitive this year so receiving any funding was wonderful,” HCWC Director of Community Partnerships Melissa G. Rodriguez said. “Especially now, some funders are shifting and restructuring their funding because of COVID-19.”
Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center in San Marcos plans to use the grant funding as part of their capital campaign, building 18 units of transitional housing for victims, as well as classrooms and childcare centers for 0-5-year-olds.
The construction was jump started by a $275,000 grant from the St. David’s Foundation in early 2020.
HCWC cited domestic violence as the leading cause of homelessness in women and children and noted that youth exposed to domestic violence can suffer life-long consequences and up to a 20-year shorter life expectancy. Both transitional housing and affordable child care were listed in TCFV’s Texas State Plan as two of the greatest barriers to victims trying to leave an abusive relationship.
The agency was selected by TCFV as one of 22 domestic violence service providers for the $250,000 2020 Swalm Grants, funding transitional housing development, quality childcare, technology purchases and more as they deal with the economic hardship and increased violence caused by COVID-19.
Individual grants range from $2,250 to $15,000 and come from TCFV’s Swalm Endowment Fund.
Swalm grantees are selected annually in a competitive application process by at-large TCFV board members. This year, priority was given to applicants that specified a need related to COVID-19 or a service area highlighted in the Texas State Plan, a report TCFV published in 2019 to identify the biggest gaps in domestic violence services.
“I’ve never seen a greater time of need for domestic violence victims and agencies than the one COVID-19 has induced,” said CEO of TCFV Gloria Aguilera Terry. “Texas has experienced an increase in domestic violence hotline calls during the pandemic, and we know that economic distress hinders victims from leaving life-threatening relationships. This year, agencies’ needs were so great that TCFV awarded more Swalm Grants than usual, and each amount was given with the hope and expectation that it would save Texas lives.”
This year, nearly half of the 48 applications submitted were selected for funding of at least 50% of the applicant’s requested amount.
Three agencies in particular exemplified the most urgent needs of the year, among them Hays County.
Denton County Friends of the Family reported a 36% increase in crisis hotline calls since stay-at-home orders were put in place. It will use the Swalm Grant to improve telehealth services and shift resources online, making advocacy and counseling more accessible to clients who cannot attend in-person appointments because of COVID-19 concerns or because of Denton County’s lack of public transit. The agency will also add text availability to its crisis hotline, knowing that victims under constant surveillance of their abuser might not be able to call for help.
Asian Family Support Services of Austin submitted a request for funds to help support Asian survivors currently facing a triple threat — risk of virus exposure, economic distress, and racial blame of East Asians for the Coronavirus. The organization plans to use the Swalm Grant to meet clients’ basic needs by providing food and grocery gift cards, rental and housing assistance, and online communication means for victims and their school-aged children who do not have access to technology.
HCWC also recently received a $10,000 grant from the Crews Kolodzey Foundation based in Buda.