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FEMA OKs $550K to nonprofits that protect women domestic violence victims

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved nearly $550,000 for nonprofits that offer services for women who are victims of domestic violence.

These allocations include $400,000 for three permanent repair projects and other allocations for emergency work following Hurricane María.

Citing Puerto Rico Police Bureau Statistics Office, FEMA said there were 6,170 incidents of domestic violence were reported on the island in 2020.

“Recovery encompasses a myriad of sectors that positively affect the safety and well-being of our communities. Certainly, these allocations help these entities to continue their work for the benefit of our island,” said Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands José Baquero Tirado.

Among the entities to which funds were allocated is the Ruth Center for Battered Women, which since its establishment in 1984 has served nearly 6,500 participants annually. The center provides emergency shelter, transitional housing for women and their children, guidance and counseling, legal services, and other support and educational resources.

As a result of the $300,000 obligation, it was able to repair the roofs of its buildings and the cistern, as well as the fence that provides protection from intruders and unwanted persons, among other repairs.

Hogar Ruth’s Executive Director, Lisdel Flores-Barger, said the aid is “extremely important” in these cases because it is about the participants’ safety — the most important element promised to the victims. At the time of the disaster, it was sheltering 42 people.

“If we hadn’t been able to achieve the improvements to keep the entity functioning, perhaps dozens of women would have been killed because they would not have been able to access an emergency shelter. We’re talking about lives, there is no greater impact than that. FEMA provided access to those funds we needed,” said Flores-Barger.

Similarly, Casa Protegida Julia de Burgos, will receive approximately $27,000 to repair its solar water heating system, light fixtures for the parking lot, and purchase office furniture, among other improvements.

“Casa Julia,” as it is known, was founded in 1979 and provides shelter, transitional housing, children’s programs, counseling services and outpatient programs, among others.

Women’s Advocate Lersy Boria-Vizcarrondo said her office is “working tirelessly to provide the available resources.”

In the specific cases of the Ruth Center and Casa Julia, they are subsidized by the Women’s Advocate Office, which supports all efforts in their favor.

“We’re grateful for this allocation of funds for these organizations that undoubtedly do a commendable job, in addition to meeting the physical and emotional needs of the victims who need it so much in their process,” said Boria-Vizcarrondo.

Meanwhile, Hogar Nueva Mujer-Santa María de la Merced and Hogar La Piedad which is part of the Puerto Rico Community Development Foundation (FUNDESCO, in Spanish) are part of the organizations that were approved funds to repair their facilities.

The Yabucoa Office of Women’s affairs also received $90,000 to continue ensuring the development and implementation of legal, social and economic equality for women and the strengthening of the family.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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