Roanoke domestic abuse center getting increased calls of homelessness, substance abuse

Sara Machi/WDBJ7
Sara Machi/WDBJ7(WDBJ)
Published: Sep. 1, 2016 at 11:22 PM EDT
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Last year, Roanoke's Turning Point domestic violence shelter took in 233 women and children, but its hotline handled nearly twice as many calls for help, 573 cases.

It turns out that the group is getting more and more calls about homelessness and substance abuse, but there are few resources that fill that need.

When Digna Marrero, a case manager at Turning Point, answers the hotline, she asks callers a series of questions. Sometimes Turning Point isn't the best option -- or the person on the other end doesn't qualify for the shelter -- so employees like Marrero turn to their referral sheets.

"We don't just say, 'You don't meet the guidelines.' We really try and help and figure out what their needs are, and how we can connect them to the services within the community," Marrero said.

Lately, Marrero's seen the same issues come up: homelessness and substance abuse. These are areas where Salvation Army leaders see a service gap.

"We see a lot of people who are needing substance abuse treatment, of which we are not equipped to handle," Captain Monica Siler of The Salvation Army said.

This is a domestic violence shelter first and foremost. Right now, they send callers to the few small agencies taking in addicted women and their children, but they say those organizations can't keep up with the high addiction numbers.

Salvation Army workers say they hope to partner with other agencies in the future, building up local addiction treatment options.

"As the needs of the community change, so then the goals and focus of the Salvation Army should change along with it," Capt. Siler said.

2015's numbers are comparable to the years prior.

2014: 226 residents sheltered and 576 hotline calls.

2013: 259 residents sheltered and 521 hotline calls.

2012: 220 residents sheltered and 657 hotline calls.

If you want to know more about Turning Point, visit the Virginia Salvation Army's website at