BILLINGS, Mont. - The Billings YWCA is looking to build a second emergency shelter due to the nearly 40% increase in partner and family member assaults during the pandemic. 

"We have been really struggling to figure out how to house everyone who needed support," Billings YWCA CEO Merry Lee Olson said. "So, during  the pandemic, we ended up spending $100,000 of unbudgeted money to put people in hotels."

The Billings YWCA points to other rising assault statistics:

  • 39.9% increase in partner or family member assaults
  • 25.8% increase in aggravated assaults committed by a partner or family member that included strangulation
  • 56.9% increase for partner or family member assaults with aggravated serious injury
  • 34% increase in partner or family member assaults at misdemeanor or felony levels causing serious bodily injury
  • 41% increase in sexual assaults

You can go here for Billings Police 2020 statistics.

The second shelter will be a 25 studio unit facility with 66 beds. It will be adjacent to the existing 22-bed shelter. The new shelter will include counseling offices, a food pantry, laundry areas, and indoor/outdoor family areas.

It will cost $4 million to build. The YWCA is planning to start construction in late summer of 2021 or early in the spring of 2022.

The YWCA said:

"Domestic violence and poverty are the two leading causes of homelessness here in Billings. The women and children who come to YWCA are usually victims of both violence and poverty. Their potential for ending up on the streets is an area-wide issue that could result in millions of dollars of expense and impact to the city and county annually if it were not for the YWCA."

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