The Pasco Police Department and Jericho Road are teaming up with plans to open a new safe house for victims of domestic violence.
We don't want to put the kibosh on a good thing, but we also are reluctant to encourage spreading our community's limited resources too thinly.
Bearing that in mind, we have to ask, "Does the Tri-Cities really need another domestic violence safe house?"
We don't know the answer to that question. But it's something to consider.
We do know that domestic violence is rampant in our community and throughout the nation.
We know that one in four women can expect to be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime.
We know that you don't have to look through too many newspapers to see another occurrence -- and those are just the ones that get reported.
The Domestic Violence Services of Benton and Franklin County is one organization that already is working on the problem.
According to agency's website, from November 2003 through October 2009, staff and volunteers:
* Provided shelter for 2,190 domestic violence victims and their children, including 1,026 women, 1,138 children, 28 men.
* Answered 71,757 calls on 24-hour crisis line.
* Provided legal advocacy to 10,690 clients and assisted with 1,966 protection orders.
* Logged more than 30,000 advocacy and group counseling hours.
* Made more than $200,000 in rental assistance available to domestic violence victims.
* Offered more than 10,000 hours of education and training to volunteers and community.
Up to 30 people can be in the current shelter at any one time.
Does that cover everyone who needs help? No.
Does it cover everyone who qualifies for the state's services? Yes.
Do we still have some gaps in our social services? We do.
For example, if the abuser is not an intimate partner (a roommate or some relative other than spouse, for example) the victim doesn't qualify for domestic violence services.
The program also doesn't provide any help for general homelessness that's not specifically a result of domestic violence.
Jericho Road does good work. They describe themselves as "a crisis ministry helping those in our community with emergency needs."
They are a faith-based group that provides food, clothing, school supplies and holiday help to families and individuals in need.
We don't doubt their sincerity or intentions. There are definitely areas that we can and should address as a community, but we worry that two domestic violence shelters might create an overlap in services -- and stretch already limited resources -- while overlooking wider gaps in social services.
We don't have the answers, but we're certain the community's needs exceed available help. A little caution now will ensure the biggest impact later.