Domestic abuse program provides only temporary housing in Door County

STURGEON BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- A Door County domestic abuse organization receives a new grant, to help establish one of the only programs of its kind in the area.

“I think sometimes when we see or we think of Door County, we see this picturesque community and it’s lovely and it’s awesome,” says Milly Gonzales, the domestic violence coordinator at HELP of Door County. “And yeah, it is. But just knowing that domestic violence is in every single community [is important.]”

That’s why HELP of Door County, a domestic abuse organization, applied for a grant from the Wisconsin Public Service Foundation. It received the grant earlier this month, putting $3,200 toward a temporary living program.

“This money coming in gives us the ability to offer them immediate safety,” says Judy Gregory, an elder abuse advocate at HELP of Door County. “So that when someone comes and they're in a situation that is serious, that their life is in jeopardy, that we can say, "let us put you someplace safe.”

As of right now, there’s no homeless shelter in Door County, making HELP of Door County the only program in the area that provides temporary housing. That’s why the new grant is so important – to help victims find temporary housing, and lead them on the road to permanent housing.

The program starts with four months of “rental assistance.”

“The first month, it’s all of it, 100 percent [paid,]” says Anni Lampert, and advocate at HELP of Door County. “The second month it's 75 percent. 50 percent and 25 percent, with the idea that at the end of this four month period, through some of their counseling, and case work that we deal with with them, we help them figure out what it is that they need.”

After that, the hope is that victims will start making bigger-picture plans for their future.

“What that does is it kind of plants a seed for home ownership,” says Gonzales. “So letting them know, okay maybe a few months ago you weren't thinking about even being safe within your own home, now you're in your own home or your own apartment, and now that's not the last part of it. You can keep dreaming big.”

Advocates say this donation makes the entire program possible.

“This grant helps us always be in a ready position,” says Gregory. “Without that money, without any of the money that we get from the community, we would not be here.”