Building anew: Construction is picking up, giving Madison a needed facelift
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Shannon Barry, executive director of Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, runs the smallest domestic violence center, per capita, in the state of Wisconsin. That would be okay if the center was located in the smallest city, but it’s located in Madison, so a facility intervention was sorely needed. DAIS’s new, $5.6 million Fordem Avenue facility, all 35,000 sq. ft. of it, will allow DAIS to nearly double its 24-member workforce, expand its services, and accommodate twice as many beds for domestic violence victims.
The current facility has 25 beds, which is around the same number as the domestic violence shelter in Shawano County. Needless to say, it doesn’t meet the need, especially with 80 people on a nightly waiting list — all in imminent danger of being seriously harmed or killed by their batterers. “For the past couple of years, we are full 100% of the time,” Barry says.
The new Domestic Abuse Intervention Services facility will allow for expanded staff and services, including double the number of shelter beds.
Why not even more beds? Distrustful of national research that suggested 75 to 100 beds here, DAIS management believes six other core programs can reduce the need for shelter. Those programs include help-line support groups, legal advocacy services, face-to-face crisis response, children’s programming, prevention programming, and training and education. Another $1 million must be raised for an operations reserve, but by expanding the capacity of these programs, Barry hopes to reduce the need for shelter.
“It didn’t make sense to go from a 25-bed facility to a 100-bed facility,” Barry states. “We would collapse under that sort of transformation, and we wanted to keep our options open.”
One of those options is to expand elsewhere on the new site, an alternative that DAIS would rather not exercise. The organization’s eventual goal is to put itself out of business, which local employers should note because national studies show that domestic violence causes victims to lose about 8 million days of paid work each year, the equivalent of about 32,000 full-time jobs.
Added Barry: “When we do training for human resource professionals and businesses, one of the things businesses are surprised to hear is that research shows 75% of the perpetrators of domestic violence use their workplace resources to stalk and harass their victims.”
After the new facility opens this summer, an expanded staff also means more consumers for north side restaurants and stores. In a 2013 survey of its staff and volunteer workforce, DAIS found that its workers spend about $50,000 a year at nearby businesses. “Our current workforce is relatively young,” Barry noted. “They like to shop and eat out.”