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More long-term housing needed for Ohio victims of domestic violence

The executive director of the Bethany House says it's one of only three long-term care facilities in the state dedicated to domestic violence victims.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Breaking the cycle is difficult for a domestic violence survivor; even more so during a pandemic.

Advocacy workers in Toledo are worried about the growing need for more long term housing.

"It's been a scary year of not knowing what was happening for victims, but fearing the worst," Bethany House executive director Deidra Lashley said.

She said her team saw fewer calls for help from domestic violence survivors this year, but added that the need is growing and the situation is worsening due to the pandemic.

"Long-term stay for people that are high at risk is so important," she said, "and we're one of three in the state of Ohio that offer that long-term stay."

Lucinda Weller is the family law director at Legal Aid of Western Ohio. She says her domestic violence cases this year have been more severe, with victims scared to leave home.

"It makes it really hard for someone to reach out for help when you're working from home or having the kids home from school," Weller said.

She believes more long-term facilities are needed. Bethany House offers up to two years of housing and resources.

"(We) really need to have options where people can stabilize their life, improve their credit, resolve the issues that are out there to really make a difference so they don't have to return to an abuser," Weller said.

Lashley said funding has been hurt by the pandemic, but their doors will remain open to helping those in need.

"As the need grows, the funding isn't keeping up," Lashley said, "and so we're going to have to be making some difficult decisions in the next year to 18 months in how we can continue to maintain our services."