MSP is unique in offering a full continuum of care from emergency shelter through transitional-to-permanent housing. Our experienced team of case managers and residential counselors provides clinical counseling, case management, and comprehensive services to empower survivors to recover and thrive. MSP also provides training, case consultation, and advocacy to engage communities to prevent violence and abuse.
My Sister’s Place (MSP) shelters, supports and empowers survivors of domestic violence and their children, while providing leadership and education to build a supportive community.
For information on any MSP program, call us at (202) 540-1064.
RISE Trust supports upward economic mobility and allows survivors to set and meet financial goals that help them gain and maintain safety and self-sufficiency.
Among our most recent achievements is our newly launched emergency cash transfer program, RISE Trust. The program, which launched in January 2023, provides survivors with monthly payments and helps survivors set and meet financial goals that support long-term self-sufficiency and independence. While there have been several cash transfer programs across the country, none are specifically targeted to domestic violence survivors. Because financial limitations are often the reason that survivors stay in abusive relationships, a cash transfer program supports their well-being and helps ensure that survivors do not return to an abuser out of financial necessity.
My Sister’s Place’s second emergency shelter which has six apartment-style units. Survivors receive counseling, case management, and life-skills training.
Sanctuary II, which opened in September 2022, is My Sister’s Place’s second shelter for domestic violence survivors. Sanctuary II expanded our emergency shelter bed capacity by nearly 50% and provides an additional 18-20 survivors/survivor families per year with the safe shelter they urgently need. The building is newly renovated and accessible to community resources, good schools, and pertinent social services.
An emergency shelter serving up to 45 survivors (both adults and children) that offers counseling, case management, and professional skills training.
Sanctuary Plus is our 9,000 square-foot facility which features 15 bedrooms, a family room, a children’s resource center, a secure playground, and a commercial kitchen with a full-time chef who cooks nutritious meals for families five days a week. The shelter’s dormitory-style design encourages a sense of community and support and reminds families that they have others to lean on during this challenging time. Clients typically stay at Sanctuary Plus for 3-6 months, sometimes longer and sometimes shorter, depending on their need. Our shelter can fit up to 45 people and is almost always at full capacity.
Residents at Sanctuary Plus receive individual and group counseling, clinical case-management, art therapy, trauma informed care, and referrals to supportive services focused on addressing the unique challenges each family or individual faces. As in many domestic violence shelters, children comprise the largest population in MSP’s shelter. Sanctuary Plus provides children’s programming to help youth survivors safely express and heal from their trauma—more on that in the Children’s Programming section below.
MSP’s transitional-to-permanent housing program that builds survivors’ skills and independence
MSP’s first transitional-to-permanent housing program, RISE (Reaching Independence through Survivor Empowerment) helps families fleeing from domestic violence move from crisis to safety and stability. RISE is a one-year program and while participants are in the program, rent for their apartments is paid for by My Sister’s Place. Our staff provides ongoing assistance, support, and referrals for other resources to clients as they increase their stability and self-sufficient, and make plans for a future of greater independence.
RISE’s goal is to provide a foundation so that families are able to remain in their apartments after exiting the program, taking on their own rent. Launched in 2012, in its first year RISE served 5 families. Today RISE serves an average of 45 families a year.
Similar to RISE, RISE Plus transitional housing extends rental support for two years. In RISE Plus, My Sister’s Place serves 30 families annually, including an average of 80 children. Like in RISE, survivors in RISE Plus receive intensive case management and wraparound supportive services including workforce development, empowerment coaching, art therapy, and other trauma-informed care. RISE Plus includes a path to permanent housing model that allows clients to pay an increasing portion of their rent each month so that at the end of the two years they have taken on full payments and are largely self-sufficient.
Each year, MSP serves 150 families in the Family Rehousing and Stabilization Program (FRSP). The families in this program are housed in transitional housing managed by the city. My Sister’s Place Client Advocates and Case Managers offer clients similar services as are offered through our other housing programs, including access to workforce development workshops, addiction counseling, art therapy, and other support groups. This collaboration allows our trauma-trained team to provide care to survivors who otherwise would not be able to access support that addresses their unique needs as survivors of domestic violence.
At My Sister’s Place we view the children we serve as survivors too. Children who live in a home with domestic violence frequently suffer from trauma, even if they do not witness the abuse firsthand or are very young when the abuse happens. At our shelter, and in the community, MSP provides specialized programs to support children and help them develop healthy behaviors and relationships. We are one of The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project sites and are also part of the National Children’s Museum Community Membership Program.
Additionally, we have an in-house Art Therapist who works with both our child and adult clients. Often lacking the ability to constructively express their feelings, children who have experienced trauma and witnessed violence may exhibit negative or violent behavior at school and at home. Exposure to this type of violence is also the greatest indicator that a child will grow up to find himself or herself in a violent relationship – as either the abuser or abused. Because of these odds, and because of our dedication to breaking generational cycles of violence, we devote significant resources to supporting our child survivors.
As MSP moves clients from our shelter into transitional housing, we realize most clients do not have the furniture or other household items that make an apartment a home. As most of our clients are below the poverty line, they don’t have the means to purchase even used items. We found some survivors stayed at our shelter after they had secured transitional housing because they quite literally did not have a bed to sleep on or a table to eat at.
MSP’s Move-In Program launched in January of 2020 and coordinates the donation of new and gently used furniture and other household items such as kitchen supplies, linens, and more. The Move-In program also facilitates a group of volunteers to move furniture and decorate the apartment so that clients move into a fully furnished and decorated home. Our volunteers often fill children’s rooms with an abundance of toys, books, and artwork. The survivors who we work with are overwhelmed and incredibly grateful to enter their apartments for the first time and have it all set up, fully furnished and decorated.
If you would like to take part in a Move-In, please sign up through the volunteer portal. If you have new or gently used furniture you would like to contribute, please email Angela Cavanaugh with a photo of the item(s).
For most of our clients, who largely live paycheck to paycheck, an unexpectedly high bill or an unforeseen expense is both extremely stressful and damaging. In worse cast scenarios, if they aren’t able to cover these expenses, they may be forced to leave safe housing and return to their abusers. The Fresh Start Fund helps our clients with one-time unexpected expenses that may destabilize their ability to remain safely housed and their ability to continue on a path of self-sufficiency. Expenses covered by the Fund include moving costs, a large utility bill, an unexpected car repair bill, job (re)certifications, educational pursuits that would lead to higher income, childcare support, and more.
If you would like to contribute specifically to the Fresh Start Fund, please click on our donate link and choose to allocate your donation to the Fresh Start Fund.
Trainings, events, literature & more to raise awareness and encourage community engagement
Eradicating domestic violence requires a coordinated community response that embraces both prevention and intervention. My Sister’s Place partners with law enforcement, members of the legal community, clergy, and others to ensure that service providers and community members are equipped to appropriately respond to survivors’ needs.
We are committed to responding to our community’s diversity and evolving needs, and in the late 90s launched our Latinx Outreach Program. One of every 10 DC residents is Latinx. We understand that beyond language barriers, addressing domestic violence in the Latinx community (and other immigrant communities) requires cultural competency so we have a Bilingual Outreach Coordinator on staff specifically focused on assisting the Latinx community. We have a fully functional Spanish version of our website, table at community resource clinics, and work on other innovative projects to make our information broadly accessible.
My Sister’s Place Value Statements:
Demonstrate Professionalism, Integrity, and Excellence
We strive to maintain the highest expectations of ourselves and are accountable to each other – colleagues, survivors, community, and ourselves. Our ambitions are guided by our community, best practices, evaluation and feedback and are performed with high standards and integrity.
Support Wellness and Self-care
We believe in order to live fully and holistically, we must prioritize time for healing, wellness, and growth. Thriving through adversity, challenges, and change requires tools and strategies for coping and resiliency. We encourage self-awareness, self-advocacy, and life balance through dedication to self-care.
Provide Person-centered and Trauma-informed services
We seek to empower the survivors we serve to honor their experiences, prioritize their needs, and restore self-agency. We recognize that each person has unique experiences and requires an individualized approach that is informed by survivor strength, experience, and choice. It is accessible, comprehensive, and survivor-led.
Foster an Environment of Trust, Transparency and Respect
We value open communication, collaboration, and collegiality that nurtures a trustful and respectful environment. We celebrate our differences and strengths utilizing them to be a creative, supportive and solution-minded team and community.
Deliver Services Intentionally and Passionately
We define our vision and goals to meet the dynamic needs of the community we serve. It requires we cultivate passion for achieving our mission and act with purpose to support the wishes of survivors. We advocate for what is just and are committed to providing quality service.
Have questions about our programs? Call 202-540-1064 to learn more about our services.