La Casa de las Madres now has a permanent drop-in center at Howard and Ninth Streets, after decades of nomadic wandering amidst skyrocketing rents.
California’s first-ever shelter for women and children trying to escape domestic violence was founded right here in San Francisco in 1976, and thanks to a massive grant from the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, it’s staying here. Now a larger incorporated nonprofit, La Casa de las Madres will now enjoy a certain stability that it’s never had in those 43 years. The Chronicle reports that La Casa de las Madres has purchased a permanent new home, a drop-in center at 1269 Howard Street which they’d been renting since this past spring. It’s particularly welcome news for an organization that Bay City News notes has had to move three times in the last 20 years.
Last year, we purchased our new drop-in counseling center thanks to the support of our generous La Casa community & a grant from the city. Today, we're celebrating the opening of our new home! Special thanks to @LondonBreed for providing remarks (& bringing scissors!)❤️ pic.twitter.com/Fai5M2BRY4— La Casa de las Madres (@LaCasaSF) December 19, 2019
The grand ribbon cutting you see above was actually two weeks ago, and yes, that is interim district attorney Suzy Loftus two spots over from Mayor Breed (parenthetically, she is still your interim district attorney, as Chesa Boudin will not be sworn in until Wednesday, January 8.) Both Breed and Loftus spoke at the ribbon-cutting, as did the director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), which coughed up the million dollars to help complete the reported $6.9 million purchase and move.
“We need to help nonprofits stabilize themselves, and one of the essential components of that is having real estate that’s theirs to help smooth out the costs over time,” OEWD director Joaquin Torres told the Chronicle. “So now they can focus on services, rather than the economic costs of real estate.”
And La Casa de las Madres provides far more services than simply a shelter. Bay City News points out that La Casa “also operates a 24-hour emergency shelter, two crisis lines, a text line, and is equipped with advocates within the San Francisco Housing Authority, the San Francisco Police Department’s special victims unit, the Mary Elizabeth Inn and some San Francisco Unified School District high schools.”
As with many domestic violence shelters, the drop-in center is not necessarily the shelter. The Chronicle has the harrowing story of victim Cassandra Poggi, who found out about La Casa while hiding in someone’s garage, frantically searching online while attempting to lay low from her attacker.
“I found their emergency hotline number and I gave them a call, not knowing what to say,” she told the Chronicle. “All I was able to tell the woman on the other line was that I was just beat up, I feared for my life, and I needed somewhere safe to stay. So she gave me instructions to one of their undisclosed shelters, where I was able to stay for the night when I knew that he would not be able to find me.”
It’s great for La Casa de las Madres to have the permanence of a forever home, but they are still a nonprofit struggling with the cost of operating in modern-day San Francisco. The organization did barely pass their 2019 fundraising goal, but are still accepting donations. And if you or anyone you know is in need of domestic violence victim support, La Casa de las Madres has a 24-7 support and shelter hotline at 1-877-503-1850 (for adults), 1-877-923-0700 (for teens or children) and a text help line at 415-200-3575.
Image: @LaCasaSF via Twitter