The Houston Area Women's Center held a groundbreaking on Wednesday for a new, larger housing facility for women in crisis.
The Emergency Supportive Housing facility will be located on the city's south side and will triple the number of women who can be housed safely each night. This facility is in response to soaring rates of family violence in Houston as local services are at capacity.
Jamie Wright is a board member and survivor who shared her experience at the groundbreaking.
"I was just like super humiliated. I thought I was coming here from Dallas-Fort Worth to Houston, Texas to live this amazing life with this amazing man. And to find myself homeless?" she said. "And now I don't have the shame wrapped around raising awareness of domestic violence."
Wright said the center specializes in domestic and sexual violence, and is always available for those who are seeking help. However, she said there are times survivors might not be ready to leave.
"If you're not ready to leave right now, family, friends, advocates, have to be okay with that," she said. "All I would ask is that you create a safety plan. A safety plan meaning: when things get hostile, you can remove yourself, and your children, and your pets out of the house safely."
Wright said attending the groundbreaking was a full-circle moment for her as someone who is a survivor and now an advocate. Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis also attended the groundbreaking and said most victims of family violence are people of color.
"We know most of these people who are victims in our community happen to be African-Americans now. But increasingly, they are Hispanic," he said.
Commissioner Ellis said the new facility will be more open than the previous facility.
"Unlike the way the older one was built, where you feel like you're being carved off from the rest of the community and the city, you are a part of this community," he said.
Construction of the Emergency Supportive Housing facility will continue through this year and is estimated to be ready in late 2024.