A collaboration between San Francisco’s Human Services Agency and real estate investment company Veritas Investments will provide 20 furnished apartments to the survivors of domestic violence. The news was recently announced by San Francisco mayor London M. Breed and district attorney Chesa Boudin.
The apartment homes became a priority after a recent surge in domestic violence, an unexpected and troubling consequence of shelter-in-place initiatives. During the first week after the shelter-in-place directive, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office saw an initial spike of a 60% increase in clients referred to its Victim Services Division compared with the same week in 2019.
In the second week, the office saw a 33% decrease in new client referrals. “While staying home except for essential needs is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, it isn’t the safest option for everyone,” said Breed. “On top of dealing with the global pandemic, far too many families also have to deal with the threat of violence and abuse at home, all while being more socially isolated from their friends and other support networks.”
Veritas, based in San Francisco, has a reputation for community involvement and giving back. “As a homegrown San Francisco business, we feel deeply tied to our community and know how hard this public health crisis has been on everyone, especially the most vulnerable,” said Yat-Pang Au, founder and CEO of Veritas Investments. “Whether it’s providing temporary housing for individuals displaced by fire, families seeking care at our local medical institutions, or in this case, survivors of domestic violence, Veritas is always seeking ways to be a supportive member of the San Francisco community.”
The 20 homes are located in several secure buildings throughout the city. Survivors and their families, including pets, can move in at their convenience and can stay for up to 90 days at no cost. During that time, survivors will be supported by community-based domestic violence agencies, who will provide wraparound services and referrals.
“We know that as this pandemic goes on, there will be an increased need for services and shelter, and these 20 temporary homes are a good place to start," said Kathy Black, executive director of La Casa de las Madres, a leading provider for domestic violence survivors in the Bay Area. "What Veritas Investments and the City of San Francisco are doing in arranging this temporary housing is just huge for people and families dealing with domestic violence—it underscores that they are not alone. We hope other property owners will look into their inventory and contact the Mayor’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, or local officials to find out how these short-term commitments can really transform lives. An individual or small family can start to get their lives on track, just staying somewhere that feels safe, anonymous, and away from where they came from."