Last year, more than 14,000 callers to the Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline seeking shelter were denied due to a lack of room at the city's two 100-bed safe havens.
In an effort to better address domestic violence, Mayor Jim Kenney announced a new post at City Hall. The director of domestic violence strategies will improve the coordination and reach of services and work to reduce the number of instances of domestic violence in the city, Women Against Abuse announced Tuesday in a news release.
Women Against Abuse's Director of Education Azucena Ugarte will leave her position at the nonprofit to fill the new role, which starts on Oct. 17.
"I want Philadelphia to become a national model in responding to domestic violence," Kenney said. "Too many victims suffer in silence because they are embarrassed or for fear of even greater mistreatment."
The Philadelphia Police Department receives more than 10,000 emergency calls each year for domestic violence or other domestic issues. And the Domestic Violence Hotline received more than 14,000 calls last year for assistance. That was a 50 percent increase over the prior year, according to Women Against Abuse.
And while homicides through domestic violence declined in 2013, the number increased again, with 19 in 2015.
"For too long, domestic violence, a fundamental component of public health and safety, has been inadequately addressed without the coordination of a city authority," Women Against Abuse Executive Director and President Jeannine Lisitski said. "We are honored that the city has chosen a longtime member of the Women Against Abuse team for this new role, and look forward to continuing to work together to enhance the safety of Philadelphians like never before."