An official groundbreaking ceremony was held May 17 for the Houston Area Women’s Center’s new Emergency Supportive Housing Facility. The new facility will triple the capacity from 120 to 360 units for individuals seeking housing, CEO Emilee Whitehurst said.

“This building will be the anchor for our new flagship campus, and it’s an innovative service-delivery model that will house women and children fleeing violence in a four-story facility that is beautiful, welcoming and in-fact housing, not a shelter,” Whitehurst said.

The details: Officials from the women’s center alongside members of Houston City Council and Harris County Commissioners Court attended the ceremony. Sallie Alcorn, Houston City Council member at-large, Position 5, tweeted that roughly half of the women who call the Houston Area Women’s Center are turned away due to lack of beds.

Whitehurst said the agency is expanding in response to the increased rates of family violence in Houston.

“Right now, Houston and Harris County have the highest family violence homicide rate and the highest shelter turn-away rate in the state,” Whitehurst said. “We at HAWC in partnership with local organizations and elected officials, are committed to ensuring that when survivors reach out for safety, they have a welcoming place to go.”

The housing facility is projected to be completed by the end of 2024, Whitehurst said. Some of the services offered to clients include career counseling, financial services and medical care.

Get involved: For anyone in a situation where they feel unsafe or for people who know someone, Whitehurst suggests the following:

  • Calling their 24-hour hotlines:
    • Domestic violence: 713-528-2121
    • Sexual assault: 713-528-7273
    • Live chat: 346-295-8994

Trained professionals are available to provide crisis counseling, safety planning and “lethality assessments” to determine how much danger a caller might be in.

Quote of note: Domestic abuse is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children," Whitehurst said. "Part of why we’re so excited [for] this facility is that it will address the alarming rates of violence and murder. It will also help address the homelessness because those two things are so connected."