The Houston Area Women's Center, also known as HAWC, announced on Tuesday that the organization is expanding in order to address domestic violence throughout the City of Houston.
Members of the group were joined by local and state officials, community members, and the Houston Police Department at its Waugh Drive location.
The new expansion includes a new residential campus and an administrative headquarters that will provide a 135-unit Emergency Supportive Housing that will triple the capacity to serve 360 women and children, and provide shelter, childcare, and access to a Houston ISD elementary school, and other services like counseling and behavioral health and career and finance counseling.
Included in the expansion are four new Survivor Empowerment Hubs located at different locations across Houston. The hubs will offer services including counseling and behavioral health, career and financial counseling, housing and case management, and legal services depending on the location.
- The Mexican Consulate/Southwest
- Mabee WholeLife Center at the The Women's Home, Northwest
- Sisters of Charity's St. Austin Center, East End
- Children's Assessment Center, Central
"Instead of the one front door we used to have which is behind me and will be no longer, we will have three neighborhood locations where survivors can walk in and access services, ” said HAWC's Executive Director Emilee Whitehurst.
The Center expects to break ground on its new facility in December and have all four hubs operational in the first quarter of 2023.
"October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This is the month, wherever you remember that each and every day. Each and every one of us has a role to play in addressing public health in the epidemic of interpersonal violence," Whitehurst said.
Whitehurst highlighted the importance of the community being there for the announcement of the new expansion and how HAWC has helped survivors for the past 45 years.
"We empower survivors with the tools needed to heal in the wake of harm and to establish independent lives," said Whitehurst. "HAWC, free housing, counseling and legal programs serve thousands of survivors each year, because we know that healing takes time, and that housing and financial independence are the most critical components to long term security."
According to the Houston Police Department, there have been 55 domestic violence-related homicides this year, a 15 percent decline from last year of 65 domestic violence related homicides. HPD has also seen a 9% decrease in reported domestic violence incidents this year.
Mayor Sylvester Turner says the goal is to have no deaths.
"We simply have to get to the point where incidents of sexual abuse and domestic violence simply do not occur, that is the goal."
Under the Mayor's One Safe Houston Initiative, $10 million of ARPA funds have been allocated to domestic and sexual abuse responses.
Congressman Al Green represents Texas' 9th Congressional District; the new location will be in his district. He discussed his National Domestic Violence Awareness Month Resolution that aims to recognize the month of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Green said the majority of domestic violence cases are inflicted by men and they should be held accountable.
"Men, men, men, men, we have a responsibility. because most of this violence is being perpetrated by men," Green said. "The truth has to be told, and we have a responsibility to do something about it."