When a client enters the Safe Places program, in addition to securing safe, affordable transitional housing for up to two years, another important goal is to get their financial situation back in shape – something that can be very difficult for a woman with children to do after fleeing an abusive situation and striking out on her own.
No matter how hard she works and how much she tries to save money from her paycheck to prepare for the day she is finally self-sufficient out on her own living in permanent housing.
That’s what SERF is for. SERF stands for Survivor’s Empowerment and Resiliency Funds to provide that little extra help in times of minor emergencies and unexpected expenses.
For example, one Safe Places client had just gotten a new good job, but before she would receive even her first paycheck she needed to replace a tire on her car.
The cost? Only about $100, but it’s $100 she didn’t have meaning that she couldn’t get to work until she received her first paycheck. But here’s the conundrum – her new boss told her if she did not make it in to work that day she was in jeopardy of losing her job.
With the SERF available, Safe Places would be able to help her.
“This funding would be ideal for this situation because we would be able to assist her with replacing the tire immediately so that she would have transportation to work and not run the risk of losing her job,” said Safe Places Director of Supportive Housing Amanda Moyer, MSW.
In another instance, a client had to attend multiple court hearings related to an assault case involving her abuser. However, the court cases were scheduled on her days off and, not having childcare on those days, she had to take her 2-year-old daughter to court.
“The SERF money would be very beneficial because we could pay for childcare for these days and her daughter would not have to go to court and see her parents fighting with one another, yet again,” said Amanda.
Other uses for SERF could go towards furnishings for when a new client moves into a vacant apartment with no furniture, towels and bedding, and kitchen items, or to assist clients moving into permanent housing with funds for paying application fees and security deposits.
“Families moving into permanent housing would greatly benefit from having financial assistance available to them for application fees and security deposits when it comes to securing their new homes,” said Amanda. “It would set them up for success by allowing them to put their savings towards future rental payments.”
And setting them up for success is what Safe Places is all about.