The Tri-Valley's only confidential domestic violence abuse shelter will be looking to demolish its current two-building site at the end of the year and rebuild it into a bigger, mold-free facility to better serve more families in need.
Founded in 1977, the Tri-Valley Haven shelter in Livermore -- aptly named "Shiloh", for peace -- has been serving families for roughly 40 years. With up to 30 beds, the nonprofit takes in local residents and families of all ages and genders who are experiencing homelessness, sexual assault and domestic violence.
"Unfortunately there are a lot of domestic violence calls in Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin and we are always that resource for the police departments if they need somebody to come out, to advocate, to provide counseling, or if somebody needs to come in for shelter," Christine Dillman, executive director of the organization, told the Weekly.
From children advocates who make sure the kids who go to the shelter are emotionally, mentally and physically well to offering transitional housing programs where parents get help paying rent, Dillman said the shelter isn't there just to provide asylum for women who are in abusive relationships.
She said the shelter is there to help them back on their feet and able to safely be a part of a community again.
"They just want a chance to be independent, be self-sufficient and be safe for them and especially for their kids," Dillman said.
But she said that has proven to be more and more difficult, as the years go by, given the state of their current facility.
"Right now the facility, while people like to be there because it is a safe place, it's not a nice looking place and it is kind of falling apart," Dillman said.
The shelter, which is made up of a main building and a mobile one, has been giving them problems for a couple of years now. Dillman said they had to close the mobile facility in 2022 due to mold.
That came after they had already learned that the main building roof was beginning to crumble when they tried to install solar panels back in 2018.
"It's not really set up very well," Dillman said. "I'm not an architect, but I've been told it would take so much to rehab it, (that) it's just not worth it."
Apart from the roof and mold, she said their plumbing is failing; there's little privacy in the changing rooms and the playground outside is old and not safe for the kids.
And while she said that the shelter does as much as it can for those kids who have experienced so much trauma by holding celebrations for any and all occasions and giving them counseling resources, it's still very important to her to build a facility that can fully meet all of their needs.
That's why the organization has been working with the city of Livermore, along with other neighboring cities, to raise funds for the rebuilding of the entire facility.
The scope of work for the project includes increasing the total capacity of beds to 45, building a client computer lab, rebuilding the children's playground, adding a separate room for teenagers and having quiet indoor and outdoor spaces for reflection.
"It had become apparent that their shelter was in need of repair and after working with our neighboring cities and discussing with various architects, it was determined that the best and more economical path to meet the needs of our community was to demolish and rebuild the shelter," Livermore Mayor John Marchand said in a statement to the Weekly.
The campaign to fund the project officially kicked off in October of last year when Dublin Mayor Melissa Hernandez hosted the "Thrive and Rebuild Haven Dinner" at the Darcie Kent Winery Estate in Livermore, where over $200,000 were raised through donations.
Hernandez told the Weekly that she had known about the nonprofit since her days on the Human Services Commission where she found out that the shelter wasn't just the only confidential shelter in the East Bay, it was also the only one that takes in teenage boys.
"If you are trying to go into another shelter and you have a 12 year old boy, they will not take you," Dillman said. "You (would) have to leave that 12 year old with the perpetrator, which is just crazy."
"We've always said you can bring in teenage boys ... like yes, they've been through trauma and yes, they need to see the children's advocate. But, they're no worse or better than teenage girls, from our perspective at that age."
For Hernandez, that struck a chord with her.
"Being a mother of a young man, I think it's really important not to be separated from your mom -- any teenagers, any kids to be separated from their mom -- especially during a situation like this, where you're already having a lot of issues and problems and heartbreaks at home," Hernandez said.
That's why she said it's important for elected officials like her to support nonprofits like Tri-Valley Haven through any means possible, for example the fundraiser that she helped put together.
"It's things like that as elected officials that we can do to help these nonprofits thrive and to be able to go to the next level, and to be able to meet their goals so that they're able to help individuals," Hernandez said.
And that's exactly what is happening after all three of the Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore mayors toured the facility over the past and have collectively agreed to help provide roughly $900,000 in funding to the rebuild project.
"As part of the city's annual Housing and Human Services grants, $250,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding was awarded to support Tri-Valley Haven," Pleasanton Mayor Karla Brown told the Weekly.
"I recently toured the facility with Councilmember Valerie Arkin and while the work being done there is critical for our community, the years of deferred maintenance are catching up to it," she added. "Tri-Valley Haven residents deserve a quality facility as they rebuild their lives and transition to their permanent homes, so I am glad this project is moving forward."
In Livermore, Mayor Marchand told the Weekly that the City Council approved $483,846 in CDGB funding during its April 24.
"Funding this type of facility is vital to ensure the safety, well-being, and recovery of those affected by abuse," he said. "It is an investment in creating a more compassionate and supportive society where everyone has the opportunity to live free from violence and fear."
While the Dublin City Council won't see the item to provide $200,000 in funding toward the rebuild project until after summer, Hernandez said that she's sure it will pass just because it is such an important service to the community and specifically to abuse survivors.
"Sometimes these women are in these situations where they can't get out. Like we think that they can but mentally, sometimes they just can't get out," she said. "Your predator, he can totally beat you up one day and then the next day be like, 'Oh, I'm so sorry, I won't let this happen again,' and it plays into your mind."
"And when you have kids, and when you have financial situations, a lot of these women cannot get out of that," she added "They're dependent on these men to be able to get out of the situations, and sometimes they can't. And when you have kids, it's even harder."
But while the three cities have done their part in funding, Dillman said there is still much to do given that the nonprofit has only raised $1.4 million out of the total $6.5 million that is needed for the project.
She said while she is working on requesting funding from U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell's office, Alameda County and individual foundations, she will be more than happy to sit down with anyone who is interested in donating.
She also said that the architectural design and landscaping is being done pro bono and that even if the funding aspect gets delayed, they are definitely planning on breaking ground on the project at the end of 2023 or the very beginning of 2024 with the goal of completing the rebuild in 2025.
She added that the organization will continue to house 30 people during construction -- half will be in the separate house that they have been renting ever since they had to shut down the mobile facility and the rest will either be housed in another house that the nonprofit might rent or a hotel.
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