Moving company offering free services for domestic violence victims

As shelter-in-place orders have forced residents inside to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, a national moving company is offering free services to domestic violence victims who need help moving into a safe place to escape abusive partners.

College Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving announced the service April 20 as a way to help victims. The offer comes as domestic abuse cases are on the rise while families are following shelter-in-place orders, according to a post on the company's website.

The company has 130 locations nationwide and six in the Atlanta area. The company’s east Atlanta franchise owners Daniel De Las Casas and Bill Castle have already been in contact with domestic violence shelters to spread the word about their services.

“The way we approached it was how do we keep our people employed and help our community in this time of need,” De Las Casas said. Shelters will contact the company to set up the move once they have a client in need of services.

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The Atlanta Police Department reported 58% more domestic violence calls between March 8 and April 23 compared to the same time frame last year.

Partnership Against Domestic Violence and Women’s Resource Center for Domestic Violence also have seen an uptick in calls on their domestic violence hotlines since the shelter-in-place orders were issued.

Women’s Resource Center expects to move seven clients per month out of their temporary shelters into permanent housing. Convincing victims to leave is more difficult during the pandemic. “Right now, the challenge is if you leave and don’t have an income, how are you going to manage?” WRC safe house director Barbara Gibson said.

The Partnership Against Domestic Violence expects to move 12 victims, some with children, out of their shelters and into homes during May. Vice President of Shelter Services Katcha Blackwell said it would normally cost them between $500 to $1,000 to help clients move into their own place.

“To have someone one with muscle power helps,” Blackwell said. “Our clients don’t always have that option. They’re trying not to contact family because the abuser knows where their mom or aunt lives.”

Blackwell said College Hunks’ help came at the right time: “It encourages our clients that other people do care.”

Domestic violence victims can contact Women’s Resource Center for Domestic Violence 24-hour crisis hotline at 404-688-9436. Partnership Against Domestic Violence’s 24-hour hotline number is 404-873-1766.

Staff writer Asia Simone Burns contributed to this story.