The Korean American Family Service Center, Inc. (KAFSC)’s mission is to support and empower adults, youth and children to lead safe and healthy lives based on dignity, compassion and mutual respect. For nearly 3 decades, the organization has been committed to preventing and ending domestic violence and sexual assault and creating a violence-free society. In 2014, KAFSC merged with the Rainbow Center Inc. of New York and acquired a safe house in Flushing, Queens to serve victims of domestic violence. For the past 2 decades, this safe house has been funded and maintained with community support and donations from individuals, small businesses and local churches. It has also served as a safe haven for thousands of women and children in the city’s Asian and Korean communities. The safehouse can currently accommodate up to 3 women and small children at one time with 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, living room and a basement. Due to a strain on its capacity over the years and building code issues, the building is in dire need of structural overhaul and reconstruction to create a facility that can add more rooms and maximize floor space.
KAFSC previously applied for City Capital Funding and received a commitment for a renovation of the shelter, but could not proceed with the project as envisioned given the high costs of the bids received. Hester Street joined the project team to assist KAFSC with repurposing their application and to bring the organization’s capital project into fruition. The proposed project will double the shelter’s existing capacity (from an annual average of 1,800 overnight stays to 4,000) and transform the 80-year-old residence into a comfortable, efficient and larger shelter where residents can focus on healing and self-sufficiency. This newly reconstructed “Rainbow House” will offer front-line services such as emergency housing, crisis intervention and counseling, housing advocacy, and case management offered directly to women and children who are at risk of homelessness. Resident intake can be expanded throughout the work week and shelter services can be operated 24/7 by full-time staff within the new facility.