We printed a report a couple weeks back in which the rate of homelessness was connected to the rate of domestic abuse.

Both issues have gained visibility in our territory over the past few months. The region’s only domestic abuse shelter – Casa de Esperanza – has been waiting years, now, to get back into the building they had to leave because of a fire. And homelessness seems to be growing, with campers lining the levees and river bottoms in some areas – and those are just the visible homeless. There are a lot more.

The point of that article was that homelessness and domestic violence go together.

Among mothers with children experiencing homelessness, more than 80 percent have experienced domestic violence, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. From 22 to 57 percent of all homeless women report that domestic violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness. 

We just wanted to remind everyone that Casa de Esperanza provides shelter, counseling and advocacy for victims of abuse – elder, child, domestic, sexual or human trafficking. A theory of Executive Director Marsha Krouse-Taylor’s is that if you solve those abuse issues, you may solve a lot of homelessness. 

We’ve supported Casa in the past. It wouldn’t hurt to step it up a good bit.

“As a community, we should rise up and say that we are a community that cares about homelessness and we care about solving the leading reason and we know that to be domestic violence,” said Julie Gill Shuffield, a board member.

But Casa is handicapped in the work that it does.

Since April 2016, when a fire originating in the kitchen made the shelter uninhabitable, they’ve been operating out of temporary quarters in an Adventist Health/Rideout building. They’re very appreciative of the hand up given by Adventist, but they need to get their own building back and get into less cramped quarters.

At that, when they finally do get back into their building, they will be able to offer just over half the accommodations as they used to. Before the fire, their building made room for 43 beds. In their temporary building, they can put up 23 – and all the 20-plus residents are sharing two showers and they come up short in other ways (no oven for making meals, for instance.)

Casa was told repairs to their building would take a year; then two years; and more than three will have passed before anything can be finished at this point. And because of changes in building codes, the number of clients the shelter will be able to serve will have been about halved. Still, their own building is where they need to be, for the time being.

Construction was supposed to start early this year; it hadn’t yet as of our last report. But we have faith that Sutter county officials and leaders are doing all they can to get things taken care of.

Long term? We’re hoping that all the right strings can be pulled and financing someday secured for the organization to come into possession of land and raise the capital to build a new building that would allow them to accommodate a greater number of women and children who need shelter.

But short term, we all need for Casa de Esperanza – the House of Hope – to get back into their building and get settled down. The last time we looked in that building, it was a mess. Work needs to get going.

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Daily community newspapers print reports of crime. It’s just part of the job we do. People need to be aware of what’s happening in their communities, good and bad. We’ve decided to remind people about the plight of Casa de Esperanza ever month or two because we write and edit that crime blotter.  We only list felony arrests. There are usually at least a couple a day. And we can’t guarantee they are absolutely complete – we rely on getting the information from the various law enforcement agencies in our area.

The point is, if you look at the reports, usually on page A2, on a regular basis, you’ll see that various charges related to domestic abuse –  spousal abuse, corporal injury to a spouse; threatening bodily injury, etc. – amount to something significant. 

We counted a total of 36 reports of felony arrests for two weeks from March 22 through April 4. Of those, we counted 12 cases in which allegations or charges were made involving some sort of abuse. Of those 12 individuals charged, 9 were men; three were women.

That comes out to about 25 percent of felony crimes committed in Sutter-Yuba involving men committing acts of violence upon women. We have no way of knowing how many of those involve children as bystanders or victims.

This situation deserves continued attention and action by all – not just county supervisors and county employees.

Maybe you’re a member of a service organization – our community is blessed with several groups, many of which are in the business of helping children. One way they can meet that goal is to support Casa de Esperanza. Give it some thought, please.

Our View editorials represent the opinion of the Appeal-Democrat and its editorial board and are edited by the publisher and/or editor. Members of the editorial board include: Publisher Glenn Stifflemire and Editor Steve Miller.

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