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History

Since its founding in 1980, Urban Resource Institute (URI) has provided life-changing services to improve and empower New York City’s vulnerable populations. Today, URI is the nation’s largest provider of domestic violence shelter and services. Behind the organization’s almost 40 year history, a narrative of growth and innovation demonstrates URI’s focus on addressing the underserved needs of vulnerable populations and breaking down barriers preventing those needs from being fulfilled.

1980

The Urban Resource Institute (URI) is founded in Brooklyn as an affiliate of the Addiction Research and Treatment Corporation (ARTC)

1981

URI offers services to domestic violence victims at Harlem Hospital

1984

URI opens its first emergency domestic violence (DV) shelter, the Urban Women’s Shelter, in Manhattan (later renamed the Urban Women’s Retreat in 1990)

1985

URI’s services focus on aiding the developmentally disabled and those battling addiction

1998

URI creates the Working Women’s Internship Network (WWIN), providing eight-week paid, internships for women at URI shelters (renamed the Working Internship Network in 2013 to reflect the diversity of participants and demographics served)

1999

The Relationship Abuse Prevention Program (RAPP) is created to provide healthy relationship curriculum for middle and high schools students in New York City

2002

URI opens two new emergency DV shelters, Urban Women’s New Beginnings in Manhattan with 89 beds, and Urban Women’s Safe Haven in Brooklyn with 120 beds

2006

URI creates the Domestic Violence Legal and Education and Advocacy Program (LEAP) – providing legal support and services to URI’s DV shelter residents

2013

URI creates the People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) program, NYC’s first co-living initiative allowing DV survivors and their pets to escape abuse and heal together

2014

URI opens NYC’s first in-shelter dog-park, the Purina Play Haven and Dog Park, welcoming dogs into the PALS program

2015

URI launches a landmark whitepaper study analyzing the connection between domestic violence and pets using data and observations from the PALS program

2016

URI expands its services to homeless families to meet a growing need for safe and supportive shelter in NYC

2017

URI and Center Against Domestic Violence (CADV) announce a merger, making URI the largest provider of DV residential services in the United States accommodating 1,000 individuals at any given time

2018

URI receives a $5 million grant from the Day 1 Families Fund to build an Economic Empowerment Center

2019

URI opens PALS Place in Brooklyn, the first entirely pet-friendly DV shelter of its size in the United States, accommodating over 100 survivors and their pets

Initially created as an affiliate of the Addiction Research and Treatment Corporation (ARTC), URI’s early work primarily focused on services for the developmentally disabled and those battling alcoholism and other addictions. In 1980, URI began offering services to domestic violence victims at Harlem Hospital, the first facility to offer free plastic surgery to repair the physical damage of abuse for survivors.

In 1984, URI opened the Urban Women’s Retreat (UWR) – previously known as the Urban Women’s Center – an emergency domestic violence shelter in Manhattan. In 1993, URI opened the organization’s first Tier II transitional domestic violence shelter in Brooklyn, providing a continuum of support for survivors recovering from trauma.

In addition to safe shelter, URI is committed to providing comprehensive services to deliver resources to help survivors and their families lead independent lives. The Working Internship Network (WIN) program was established in 1998, providing victims of domestic violence with paid internship opportunities to help them gain work experience and earn and manage income.

In 2012, URI made the strategic decision to separate from its affiliate and expand its services to address some of New York City’s biggest challenges. URI’s comprehensive, client-centered, and trauma-informed approach that incorporates both shelter and social services was replicated to accommodate even more survivors.

In 2013, URI created the landmark People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) program in response to a critical need for pet-friendly shelters.

In 2016, URI expanded its innovative services and management to homeless family shelters and now operates six facilities in New York City.

In 2018, URI merged with the Center Against Domestic Violence, creating an influential organization with aligned missions serving even more New Yorkers in more comprehensive ways. The Relationship Abuse Prevention Program (RAPP), a middle and high school-based curriculum aims to empower young people to recognize and change unhealthy behavior patterns, and the Crime Victims Services were added to URI’s growing roster of client-centered services.

In 2019, URI introduced PALS Place, the United States’ first entirely pet-friendly domestic violence shelter of its size, accommodating up to 100 survivors and their pets.

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