Story by: Kelly Bauer

The program comes as Chicago has seen a significant increase in reports of domestic violence amid the pandemic.

CHICAGO — People fleeing domestic violence can now get free hotel rooms during the pandemic.

The program, announced Tuesday by the city, comes as Chicago has seen a significant increase in reports of domestic violence amid the pandemic.

Those who need a room can call or text the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline anytime at 877-863-6338. The hotline will place a hotel reservation for the caller to protect the caller’s privacy.

The program is funded by the state, while Airbnb and another company it owns, HotelTonight, are finding hotel rooms for people in need.

Reports of domestic violence have significantly risen during the pandemic. The Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline received 6 percent more calls from the Chicago area this March compared to the same month last year, and the Chicago Police Department has seen a 12 percent increase in domestic violence-related calls through this year compared to the same time last year, according to the city.

“We understand that the stay at home order has the potential to exacerbate the already traumatic circumstances for Chicagoans experiencing violence at home …,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a news release. “This new partnership with Airbnb creates a key link for individuals fleeing violent situations by affording them immediate safe shelter and enabling them to take the next steps in their journey of recovery and growth.”

The Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline is available via text or call daily at 877-863-6338.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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