Carrie Romano of the YWCA | 5 Spot | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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News » 5 Spot

Carrie Romano of the YWCA

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The YWCA of Salt Lake recently broke ground for new construction of a domestic violence shelter and residence for women and children at 322 E. 300 South. Heading up special projects for the Y, Carrie Romano has overseen a remarkable five-year $19.8 million fund-raising effort.

What will the new shelter look like?
The buildings have been designed to Silver LEED standards; they’ll be healing and beautiful as well as sustainable. They’ll have a lot of light. We hope to include a sustainable geothermal pump-and-dump mechanical system that could save us money and resources in the future. The buildings include a lot of child-centered space, a prayer and meditation room and a large green space in the heart of the campus.

How many will you be able to house at the new shelter?
Our current main building (that is being replaced and expanded) includes 75 shelter beds plus cribs and 12 transitional housing units, a total of 87 beds. Our new shelter and residence will have the capacity for approximately 150 beds (138 shelter beds in 36 rooms, and 12 transitional housing rooms) and significant supportive services space—this will expand our shelter-bed capacity by more than 50 percent.

Who gets to stay at the YWCA as opposed to other homeless shelters?
Domestic violence, like homelessness, can happen to people regardless of race, religion or class. Our shelter specifically serves women and children who are homeless as a result of domestic violence. They may or may not be economically vulnerable, but they have become homeless because of violence or abuse in their homes. We work very closely with other homeless service providers and domestic violence service providers.

How long do people stay?
On average, about 31 days. The average length of stay in our transitional housing is about nine months.

Why is the need so great?
Violence against women, including violence in the home, is an old problem, and it occurs worldwide. It is difficult to assess whether levels today are what they have always been. We need to support women who have taken courageous steps to protect themselves and their children from abuse and violence. Until women and children are safe from abuse and violence at home, our families and our communities will fail to thrive.

We opened the first shelter in Utah and one of the first in the country in 1976. There are now 15 shelters in Utah. Last year, 632 women and children escaping family violence found refuge and support in the YWCA shelter for nearly 26,000 nights of service. The room utilization rate was 94 percent.