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La Casa de las Madres: Nonprofit Spotlight

Nearly 20 people per minute, on average, are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, equating to more than 10 million women and men annually. In California, roughly 35% of women have experienced physical violence in a relationship during their lifetime.

To make matters worse, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the incidence of domestic violence has risen. For example, a 42% increase in the total number of domestic violence-related calls for assistance involving a firearm in California (1,388 in 2019 to 1,974 in 2020). Because of statistics like this, abuse survivors need support services now more than ever.

That’s why we’re shining a spotlight on one of the longest-running domestic violence shelters in the country: La Casa de las Madres. As the only domestic violence shelter in San Francisco conducting around-the-clock shelter intakes, this nonprofit provides vital, confidential crisis response services and support to those exposed to and at risk of abuse in the Bay Area.

Learn more about La Casa and how you can support their efforts to end domestic violence and help them to serve as a lifeline to abuse survivors of all ages, 24 hours a day, every day.

What is La Casa de las Madres?

La Casa de las Madres domestic violence shelter

La Casa de las Madres is the first domestic violence shelter established in California and one of the first of its kind in the United States. The 501(c)3 nonprofit organization provides domestic violence intervention and prevention services to more than 20,000 women, teens, and children in the San Francisco Bay Area each year. La Casa’s services are all multilingual and free of charge.

La Casa de las Madres History

Founder of La Casa de las Madres

Founded in 1976 by a coalition of San Francisco women, La Casa de las Madres—which translates into “The Mothers’ Home”—opened as one of the first domestic violence shelters in the United States. Their vision: To create a safe space for abused women and children that embodies the empowering and “protective nature of mothering.” Today, La Casa responds to calls for domestic violence help from all ages, working with many local agencies and businesses to provide support and resources to survivors.

La Casa has established many life-changing programs for domestic abuse survivors. For example, in the 2000s, La Casa partnered with the San Francisco Police Department to work with advocates inside the Special Victims Unit to provide safety planning, assist with restraining orders, and help domestic violence survivors find support and safe shelter.

In 2006, La Casa started working with advocates and educators inside the Housing Authority through its Safe Housing Project to help survivors access priority “subsidy transfers” and establish “domestic violence-free zones” in housing communities.

La Casa’s Housing First Program launched in 2018 to provide support services and rental assistance for up to one year for ten low-income survivor families.

In the past 20-plus years, La Casa’s Drop-In Center has moved three times as it continued to grow and require more space. In 2019, La Casa received a $1 million grant from the City’s Economic and Workforce Development Office through its Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative. As a result, the Center now has a permanent home in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, plus an additional 3,000 square feet of space to accommodate its domestic violence support services—a 21% increase in families accessing help in its first six months.

Today, La Casa operates nine community locations in the Bay Area. The Drop-In Center provides most of its services, including crisis intervention, counseling, shelter intakes, housing assistance, safety planning, and risk assessment.

How La Casa de las Madres Gives Back

La Casa de las Madres primary domestic violence prevention in SF

La Casa de las Madres is one of the primary domestic violence prevention resources in San Francisco—empowering, advocating for, and supporting abuse survivors of all ages.

Three of La Casa’s most extensive services include:

1. Crisis Response

Since calling a crisis hotline is often the first step in reaching out for domestic violence help, La Casa provides continual crisis response services through the following resources:

  • Two statewide, toll-free hotlines for adults and teens, available uninterrupted 24 hours a day to provide confidential support
  • A Text Support Line for non-emergency contact that does not require an immediate response

La Casa also works with emergency first-responders, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), and other community-based organizations to identify and provide services to high-risk and at-risk individuals in domestic violence situations.

2. Emergency Residential Services

La Casa de las Madres’ Emergency Shelter Program provides short-term shelter at a confidential location to women and children in imminent danger due to domestic violence.

The shelter has an around-the-clock staff that offers individualized support. Up to 35 women and children receive these onsite services each night. La Casa is the only domestic violence shelter in San Francisco that conducts shelter intakes 24 hours a day, every day.

Supportive services include:

  • Individual counseling
  • Resource advocacy
  • Support groups
  • Practical living skills development
  • Support service referrals for legal, medical, childcare issues, and more

3. Community Support Programs

La Casa de las Madres’ community education and outreach programs provide domestic violence-related training, interactive workshops, and volunteer management to anyone (including service providers, survivors, and community members). Participants learn how to recognize and understand the signs of abuse and gain skills to help support people in unhealthy relationships and increase public awareness. La Casa’s support programs include:

  • Domestic Violence 101 – learn tools and strategies for supporting survivors and their communities.
  • Supporting Survivors & Safety Planning – sharpens skills for those who provide trauma-informed support
  • Housing, Homelessness & Domestic Violence – focuses on domestic violence-related housing insecurity
  • Teen Dating Violence Workshop – addresses the complexities of young people in unhealthy relationships

Impact and Future Plans for La Casa de las Madres

Support Casa de las Madres

La Casa engages nearly 20,000 women, men, teens, older adults, and children each year through its intervention and prevention services. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, La Casa empowered over 13,000 people in the past year. Even though it was more difficult for domestic violence survivors to reach out for support, La Casa adjusted its methods to answer the call.

According to 2020 fiscal year-end reports, La Casa de las Madres accomplished the following:

  • Delivered live support to 4,571 callers on its two crisis hotlines
  • Helped 610 texters through its new emergency Text Line
  • Contacted 1,460 survivors following a police response to their abuse
  • Reached 4,276 individuals through 224 tailored education workshops
  • Provided comprehensive support services to 335 survivors fleeing abusive homes

La Casa plans to continue teaming up with other local agencies and businesses to find innovative ways to spread awareness, support survivors, and raise money for expanded domestic violence programs in the Bay Area.

A primary objective: Address the devastating increase of reported violence resulting from sheltering in place, isolation, and increased stress during the pandemic. Many victims trapped with their abusers require new ways to ask for help and connect to outreach programs.

In 2020, La Casa saw a 26% increase in callers seeking refuge. When the shelter is at capacity, the organization arranges alternative housing for victims and works with single-room-occupancy hotels in the city to make sure they get assistance.

In the summer of 2021, the organization experienced a renewed surge of need and crisis, with calls up 53%. La Casa plans to respond with “new pathways to safety in the year ahead,” including the expansion of a pilot program that equips first responders across all 10 District Stations with a domestic violence lethality assessment tool.

How to Support La Casa de las Madres

A few ways you can show support:

Did you know? Giving Assistant employees spent a day volunteering with La Cas de las Madres in San Francisco. Our team helped with collecting and creating bags of necessities and every day items to be given out at the shelter.

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