Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Women's Center Widens Outreach

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Women's Center Widens Outreach

Article excerpt

ENGLEWOOD -- The Women's Rights Information Center has launched a program called "Welcome Home" that is designed to help women who may have been domestically abused and were forced to leave their personal belongings when fleeing from a bad situation.

The program is an offshoot of the center's wider-reaching Shared Housing for One-Parent Families and Others, which helps single parents.

"Usually, when women flee abusive homes, they have to leave everything," said Jovannie Lorenzo, shared housing coordinator at the Women's Rights Information Center. "They find a place to live and although there's joy and excitement to have a place to live, reality sets in that you have nothing."

The program gives these women a basketful of essentials and also offers a financial literacy class on how to budget and manage funds.

"You feel really blessed to be able to help people find a place to live and help them get items to start from scratch," said Lorenzo.

For the past 26 years, the Women's Rights Information Center has offered shared-housing opportunities for single parents who are struggling to make ends meet -- a need that is much more prevalent today because of the economy.

"Today, low-income women and single parents are considered the most difficult population to find housing for," said Joan Grezenda, executive director of the center. "They're often considered transient or unreliable. [Shared housing] solves the problem of affordability for many families by using existing housing stock to provide housing."

Shared Housing for One-Parent Families and Others has helped single parents gain self-sufficiency by connecting them with homeowners who have available space on their properties and are willing to open their homes to those in need, said Lorenzo.

Last year, the center helped 117 people, the equivalent of 29 families. This year, the center has a list of about 11 providers willing to open their homes to 18 single parents and 31 children.

"Because of the economy, things have gotten really bad," said Lorenzo. …

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