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Austin's SAFE Alliance is using a hotel to shelter abuse victims

The group said its waitlist is longer than this time last year.

AUSTIN, Texas — The SAFE Alliance, a group that's working to end domestic violence and abuse, has received more than 3,000 domestic violence calls, texts and chats in the Austin area since March – a 17% increase from the same time last year.

But because of COVID-19, SAFE can't shelter as many people on its property as it usually can. So, it's started a new program called "Shelter Away" to house families in a local hotel to make room for others.

"When we have people in our family shelter that we've assessed and we know that they are more safe and they are a bit more stabilized, we can move them to the Shelter Away," said Piper Nelson with SAFE. "And what that does is it frees up space in our family shelter for those families that are in immediate danger, for those families that we must get behind our gates."

RELATED: Calls about child abuse are up from this time last year, SAFE Alliance says

SAFE staff members also said the group's waitlist is longer than it was this time last year.

If you need help, the number for SAFE's domestic violence hotline is 512-267-7233. It is staffed 24 hours a day.

WATCH: SAFE Alliance reports increased calls about child abuse