$127K grant to support extra housing advocate for domestic abuse victims

  • Becky Lockwood, director of the Salasin Project in Greenfield, talks with Individual and Family Support Advocate Jill Predmore. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ


Staff Writer
Published: 5/17/2022 7:10:59 PM
Modified: 5/17/2022 7:09:13 PM

GREENFIELD — A local program aimed at supporting survivors of domestic abuse has been awarded $127,000 to continue its focus on increasing access to housing and economic empowerment, while also implementing support groups in Spanish.

The Greenfield-based Salasin Project, a program of the Western Massachusetts Training Consortium, received the grant through the Massachusetts COVID-19 Survivor Trust Fund.

“The lack of affordable housing can be a significant barrier to someone leaving an abusive relationship,” explained Salasin Project Director Becky Lockwood. “With this funding, we’ll be able to hire a full-time housing advocate who can work with participants to find safe housing and move.”

Currently, the project has three full-time housing advocates, plus Lockwood. With the Salasin Project seeing an increased need for its services, an additional housing advocate will help keep up with the demand.

“To add another full-time staff person who’s going to be working directly with participants is a really significant growth for our project,” Lockwood said.

According to a Salasin Project press release, the nonprofit will collaborate with Alianza DV Services, a domestic violence program in Holyoke, to support Hampden County participants interested in moving to Hampshire or Franklin counties.

“Searching for housing can be overwhelming, especially when someone has experienced violence,” Alianza Executive Director Carmen Nieves said in a statement. The grant will also allow for the implementation of a new support group, co-facilitated by bilingual staff from Community Action Pioneer Valley’s Family Center and the Salasin Project.

“We have a Latina advocate at the Salasin Project, and we recognize that there are not very many programs in the community that provide support in Spanish,” Lockwood said. “We also recognize the great work that Community Action does at their family resource center.”

Specifically, the grant will pay for training of the support group facilitators, with the hope that current or former participants will be interested in co-leading the new programs.

Eric Cora, the Family Center’s program manager, said in a press release that the partnership with the Salasin Project allows Community Action to expand its offerings for the Latino families it serves.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Greenfield-based organization has seen an increase in domestic violence, according to Lockwood. She referenced a statewide survey that found rural areas, including Franklin County and Hampshire County, had some of the highest rates.

“There were a lot of people theorizing about why that was,” Lockwood said, noting one possible reason may have been that people were forced to stay home, either because of health safety restrictions or the economic downtown that led to the loss of jobs. “That’s kind of a toxic recipe for family violence.”


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