Updated 03/07/2013 03:23 PM
Salvation Army adds shelter space for homeless women
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A local shelter has adopted a new initiative to take in homeless women to keep them safe from the streets.
The Salvation Army has taken over a program called Safe Sleep which was initially operated by a group of churches.
In order to accommodate the women, the Salvation Army cleared out storage space at the shelter and purchased enough cots to provide shelter for up to 55 women. Officials with the nonprofit called it an emergency move.
"Women and women with children do not need to be out on the street," Randy Allen with the Salvation Army said. "They're susceptible to violence, rape and they need a safe place."
Rhonda Martin says she just wants a steady job and a roof over her head, but she’s hit some bumps along the way.
"Basically I just let life get to me,” Martin said. “Some things were too difficult to deal with and I let it destroy me."
Martin is now homeless, living on the streets of Austin.
"It's very scary,” she said. “You don't know from one minute to the next who's going to be around, what they're like or where you're going to be so this is a good thing, especially for women."
Advocates homeless women have an especially difficult time. Many shelters only accept women involved in domestic abuse situations.
"This was the first program I found that does accommodate women," Martin said.
With a safe place to stay, Rhonda can focus on the steps need to find a job and get back on her feet.
A spokesperson with the Salvation Army says the shelter is full every night and they are currently looking at ways they can add more space for women.