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Urban Resource Institute Celebrates Grand Opening of First Pet-Friendly

Brighter Days domestic violence residence will offer 62 new apartments for families with pets escaping abuse

Funding from the Banfield Foundation will support creation of an on-site outdoor pet park and play area at Brighter Days

New York – May 19, 2022 – Urban Resource Institute (URI), the largest provider of domestic violence residential shelter services in the U.S. and the only provider in New York City of co-living shelter for survivors and their pets, today celebrates the opening of Brighter Days, a seven-story, pet-friendly, Tier II domestic violence shelter in the borough of Queens, New York City. Brighter Days is URI’s ninth domestic violence residence to accommodate people and pets as part of the groundbreaking URI People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) program. The site offers 62 apartment units for families, along with comprehensive programs and services, and is designed and equipped to fully support co-living with pets. Brighter Days is the first domestic violence shelter in all of Queens to accommodate pets.

Additionally, supported by a $65,000 grant from the Banfield Foundation, URI will soon be breaking ground on the outdoor Banfield Foundation Pet Park, located on-site at Brighter Days. This Banfield Foundation Pet Park, which will open later in 2022, will offer outdoor space for adults, children, and pets to play and relax together while remaining within the safety of the residence. A valued supporter of the PALS program, this recent funding brings Banfield Foundation’s total contributions to $132,000.

Among the dignitaries joining URI to celebrate Brighter Days were New York City Department of Social Services Commissioner Gary Jenkins; Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender Based Violence Cecile Noel; Queens Deputy Borough President Ebony Young; Banfield Pet Hospital Field Director Xuxa Bakal, Banfield’s Director of Veterinary Quality, Jason Chin, DVM, and Lane LaPlante, Community Programs Manager for the Banfield Foundation; and former URI PALS clients and advocates Deedra Cheatham and Hope Dawson.

Research conducted by URI in partnership with the National Domestic Violence Hotline confirms the significant role that pets play in domestic violence situations, most critically as a barrier to seeking safety, since very few shelters accommodate pets and survivors must choose between their pet and their own safety. Additionally, pets provide emotional support for survivors and families in their recovery and healing journeys. Ninety-seven percent of survivors report that keeping pets with them is an important factor in deciding whether or not to seek shelter from an abusive relationship, according to URI’s PALS Report & Survey: Domestic Violence & Pets – Breaking Barriers to Safety & Healing, and half will not leave without their pets. Pets are often used by abusers to control their victim, with 48 percent of survivors expressing worry that their abuser would harm or kill their pets. Add to this the fact that less than 20 percent of domestic violence shelters nationwide offer assistance or accommodations for pets, and even fewer permit co-living. This issue is further exacerbated by a lack of awareness, as 72 percent of survivors seeking services were not aware that some shelters accept pets.

This is why the groundbreaking URI PALS program, launched in 2013, is so critical to addressing risk factors and delivering effective, innovative safety and healing to those impacted by domestic violence.

“The need to break barriers to safety and address the risk factors of domestic violence is critical, and it takes a multi-stakeholder approach to drive meaningful change and save lives,” stated Nathaniel M. Fields, CEO of Urban Resource Institute. “URI is proud to have been a leader since 1980 in delivering shelter and services, and especially proud to open Brighter Days as we approach the 10th anniversary of the People and Animals Living Safely program next year. But it is only through the partnership of government agencies, elected officials, advocates, companies, foundations, dedicated individuals, and service providers like URI that we can make lasting, systemic change. The individuals gathered today at Brighter Days represent this cross functional approach and we are proud to celebrate with them.”

Brighter Days has the capacity to serve 167 adults and children at any given time in apartment-style units, and offers shared spaces specially designed for the comprehensive programs offered to clients along with on-site staff offices. All 62 units are pet-friendly, fully furnished, outfitted with all the supplies needed for the family and pets, and include stainless steel kitchen appliances, granite countertops, a dishwasher, and hardwood floors. The lower floor includes a community room for meetings, therapy groups, and educational workshops; an indoor recreation room for children and adults to read, complete homework, and access computers; and a childcare playroom offering toys, games, and educational and socialization support. As part of the comprehensive programs and services offered by URI at all sites, Brighter Days clients will have access to case management, crisis counseling, safety planning, educational and support groups, childcare, permanent housing placement, referrals, recreational activities, legal support, and economic empowerment services to lead them to “brighter days.”

New Jersey-based artist Elijah Minton has been tapped to create bright murals in the community room and outdoor pet park. Minton has created murals in several URI sites, including domestic violence shelters and the URI Economic Empowerment Center, and he will bring his energetic, cheerful artistic style to enliven the public spaces of Brighter Days.

The opening of Brighter Days expands URI PALS total people and pets co-living capacity to 234 units across nine pet-friendly shelters, which are among URI’s total portfolio of 14 domestic violence shelters and six shelters for homeless families. To date, the PALS program has supported over 500 pets and 370 families.

Financing for the Brighter Days project includes funding from the NYC Human Resources Administration.

About Urban Resource Institute (URI):

Urban Resource Institute (URI) transforms the lives of domestic violence survivors and homeless families in New York City by empowering individuals, families, and communities, particularly communities of color and other vulnerable populations, to end cycles of domestic violence, homelessness, poverty, and trauma by increasing safety and resiliency. As the largest provider of domestic violence shelter services in the US and a leading provider of homeless services, URI’s programs impact more than 40,000 individuals annually through prevention, intervention, education, and direct services in both residential and non-residential settings. URI is recognized as a thought-leader across the U.S. and beyond, in particular on the intersection of domestic violence and pets. For more information, please visit www.urinyc.org. To download the free PALS Report: People and Animals Living Safely please visit https://urinyc.org/palsreport/