BRONX, N.Y., Oct. 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Urban Resource Institute (URI), the largest provider of domestic violence shelter and support services in New York City, today hosted a panel comprised of experts in domestic violence services, Bronx elected officials, and law enforcement leadership to discuss the rise in intimate partner homicides in the Bronx, the collaborative community response, and ongoing efforts to increase resources.

Panelists (from left to right) Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Dr. Carla Smith, Summer Dolder, Adrienne Giunta, and Nathaniel Fields, discuss cross-sector community collaboration to address domestic violence in the Bronx.

In 2016, a Mayoral taskforce was created to activate an immediate and long-term community response to disproportionately high female homicide rates in the Bronx. As a result, URI opened three domestic violence shelters in the Bronx to provide safety for survivors and their families.

The panel, moderated by URI’s president and CEO, Nathaniel Fields, discussed the realized results of the Mayoral taskforce’s collaborative initiatives, and the importance of a tri-sector approach to reducing intimate partner violence in the Bronx and beyond. Council Member Vanessa Gibson of the Bronx’s 16th Council District opened the program. Panelists represented agencies tackling the issue from all fronts, including funding more domestic violence shelters, advocating for legislative support, educating and empowering law enforcement, and sharing knowledge across agencies and organizations.

Panelists included:

  • Council Member Helen Rosenthal, New York City Council Member of the 6th District and Chair of the Council’s Committee on Women & Gender Equity
  • Adrienne Giunta, Chief of the Domestic Violence Bureau of the Bronx District Attorney’s Office
  • Summer Dolder, Senior Manager, Shelter Operations at NYC’s Animal Care Centers
  • Dr. Carla Smith, Chief Program Officer, Urban Resource Institute

«We are proud to bring this powerhouse panel together in the Bronx to discuss how we, collectively, have provided and can continue to provide innovative, enhanced services and interventions for those experiencing domestic violence. It takes collective knowledge, access, and resources to empower victims of domestic abuse to leave an abusive situation before violence escalates to the most extreme and tragic outcome,» said Nathaniel Fields, President & CEO of Urban Resource Institute. «For too long, the issue of domestic violence has been shut behind closed doors, creating a crisis here in the Bronx and across the nation. Together, we have the expertise and ability to reverse the trend and end domestic violence.»

The panel was held at Harmony House, URI’s newest Tier II transitional domestic violence shelter and the fourth URI shelter in the Bronx. Harmony House was recently opened as a direct response to the call for additional social services in the borough and is the largest of URI’s domestic violence shelters, offering 65 apartments that accommodate 193 individuals including families. It is also the first transitional shelter in NYC to be 100% pet-friendly as part of URI’s landmark People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) program that provides co-living options for victims of domestic violence to live and heal in the same apartment with their beloved pet.

Executive Director Kim Van Syoc of the Banfield Foundation, a nonprofit committed to enabling veterinary care, temporary housing, and disaster relief, and elevating the power of the human-pet bond, presented a check of more than $66,000 to construct a 1,000 square foot outdoor play area for families at Harmony House, including more than 600 square feet of playground specifically for pets. The playground will provide private and safe outdoor recreation space on the shelter premises, featuring a play structure and padded grass for pets and families to exercise, play, and bond.

«Pets play an essential role in families, particularly during crises, and that includes domestic violence. Keeping pets safe and healthy helps ensure they remain a vital part of their family support system, which we believe will lead to better outcomes for both people and pets,» said Kim Van Syoc, Executive Director, Banfield Foundation. «We are incredibly proud to support Urban Resource Institute and Harmony House in creating a safe, pet-friendly space where pets and their families can spend time together enjoying life free from violence and full of love.»

Harmony House and its upcoming pet haven also represent a continuum of services for survivors following their stay in emergency shelter. Restoration Residence, one of URI’s emergency shelters in the Bronx, opened as an immediate response to the crisis and has offered shelter and an outdoor safe space to families and their pets since 2016. With increased transitional shelter capacity and pet-friendly facilities in the Bronx, URI is able to provide the necessary ongoing support services for survivors as they continue to heal.

Greater community collaboration and cross-sector communication are vital to addressing such a pervasive social issue as domestic violence and female homicide. The gathering of key stakeholders represented a milestone in this long-term commitment to increased services for individuals and families in the Bronx.

About Urban Resource Institute
Urban Resource Institute (URI) is a leading non-profit organization that provides comprehensive, holistic, and supportive social services that aid and empower New Yorkers in times of crisis. URI’s programs provide care for survivors of domestic violence, individuals with developmental disabilities, homeless families, and other at-risk populations, allowing them to live in safety and recover from trauma in both residential and non-residential settings. With deep community relationships and a flexible, innovative approach to program development and service delivery, URI is uniquely equipped to provide solutions to the challenges affecting New York City’s most vulnerable populations. URI merged with the Center Against Domestic Violence in 2018, the first licensed provider of domestic violence shelter in New York. With nearly 80 years of combined experience, the organization is the largest provider of domestic violence residential services in the country, with the ability to shelter nearly 1,200 individuals, including survivors and their families, on any given day. For more information, please visit

About the Banfield Foundation®
At the core of the Banfield Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the belief that all pets deserve access to veterinary care. In support of this belief, the foundation funds programs that enable veterinary care, elevate the power of the human-animal bond, provide disaster relief for pets, and advance the science of veterinary medicine through fostering innovation and education. It also leverages the expertise and passion of Banfield Pet Hospital associates to care for pets in need. At the Banfield Foundation, we are committed to making a better world for pets because they make a better world for us. For more information, visit

Media Contact: Alison Berg
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(212) 784-5707

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SOURCE Urban Resource Institute