FOX 23: DHS announces $38 million investment for youth programs across Oklahoma

By: Jordan Fremstad
Published: May 5, 2023

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OKLAHOMA CITY − Oklahoma has a new law to make life easier for domestic violence survivors. Healing for these survivors often means finding a new place to live. Lawmakers wanted to make it easier for them to open a healthy door.

“For a domestic violence survivor, having the ability to start over is life-changing,” said Renee Clemmons, the executive director of Project Safe. 

Clemmons specializes in fresh starts.   

“We have a 16-bed emergency shelter for domestic violence victims,” Clemmons said. 

Clemmons is also the Legislative chair of the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault.  

“Unfortunately, there’s a great need,” Clemmons said. “[There were] 55,000 victims of crime last year.”  

Not just a number, but mothers, sisters, and daughters.   

“This is people’s lives,” Clemmons said. “We’re talking families. We’re talking children.”  

Another statistic reflects the people they don’t meet in time.

“We are number two [in the country] for the number of women killed by men associated with domestic violence,” Clemmons said. 

Lawmakers just passed House Bill 2242 which was signed into law this month. The law waives upfront security deposits and utility fees for survivors of domestic violence.  

“And realize there is hope and there is help,” Clemmons said. 

Survivors can begin their life again on a new road to their safe homes.   

“They really have a shot at life free from abuse,” Clemmons said.  

“We are so grateful that the legislature passed this legislation that prioritizes safety and helps 

remove one of many barriers that victims face when trying to leave their abuser,” Oklahoma City’s Family Justice Center Palomar CEO Hillary Burkholder said. 

“Being able to find and secure housing and utilities is a basic necessity in the journey to hope and healing. I hope this opens the conversation for what more we can be doing in 

our communities to ensure the protection of survivors in Oklahoma.”  

Clemmons said Oklahoma needs tougher sentences for domestic abusers. She said they are working toward more legislation to fix Oklahoma’s problem.