Dozens of victims in Hays, Caldwell counties end up back with their abuser


The Hays-Caldwell Women's Center needs final stretch of funding for new transitional housing complex

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — The Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center wants to expand its services to better help domestic violence survivors.

Right now, you can stay at their McCoy Family Shelter for about a month.

With nowhere to go after that, many women and children wind up back in their abusive homes or on the streets. In fact, staff say since 2016, 10% of the women who left the shelter went back to their abusers.

The Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center wants to build transitional housing to combat that problem.

It’s one that executive director Marla Johnson has seen often in her 27 years at the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center.

“I was at the shelter not too long ago and there was a woman sitting on the back porch who had a three year old daughter. She didn’t have a car, she couldn’t afford childcare. She was going to have to go back to the abusive home just because there was no other option for her,” Johnson recalls.

The woman told Johnson she wished the center had transitional housing now.

The new complex would have 18 living units that would accommodate up to 74 people with 1-4 bedroom apartments.

An architectural drawing shows an apartment unit of the HCWC’s transitional housing complex. (KXAN/Tahera Rahman)

The complex would also include two classrooms for young children.

“So that [women] can provide a really quality environment for their kids while we work with them to figure out their next steps,” Johnson explains.

The center will also be filling a geographical gap: Right now, there’s no transitional housing between Austin and San Antonio, and Johnson says victims of abuse from Hays and Caldwell counties don’t quality to go to either of those two cities.

“In the last three years, the number of people we have served has increased 23%,” Johnson says.

  • In 2019: 2,307 men, women and children in crisis were helped.
  • In 2018: 2,111.
  • In 2017: 1,872 people.
HCWC transitional housing floor plan. (KXAN/Tahera Rahman)

The hope was to start constructing the new complex in the fall, but they’ve hit a funding block.

“We’ve raised about $4 million. We need to raise about another $800,000,” she says.

Despite being behind schedule, Johnson is confident in the community.

“I feel really encouraged, actually. I feel like we really turned a corner. There’s a lot of people who know about abuse now, people believe that it really does happen and are really wanting to see the community do something about it,” Johnson says.

To learn about the transitional housing project, click here. To donate to HCWC, click here.

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