The city council sidestepped allegations made by former employees that SafeQuest’s shelters went largely unused for months.Vallejo Sun, by Scott Morris, November 9, 2023
BENICIA – The Benicia City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to proceed with a plan to sell city-owned property to the nonprofit SafeQuest Solano to open new transitional housing for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking, despite recent allegations that SafeQuest has misused public resources.
The council’s vote followed an emotional public hearing where proponents of the organization read statements from survivors who had been assisted by SafeQuest and one woman gave an account of leaving an abusive marriage and staying with her children in a safe house operated by SafeQuest for three weeks.
But members of the city council sidestepped allegations made by former employees that SafeQuest’s shelters went largely unused for months and that an attorney for the organization lived in a shelter rented from the city of Fairfield for $1 per year. The allegations, reported by the Vallejo Sun in June, have spurred calls for an investigation and led to eroding support for the organization.
Each councilmember reported during the meeting that they met with SafeQuest executive director Mary Anne Branch privately to address concerns. But the councilmembers did not ask for a public explanation. Branch and SafeQuest have declined to answer questions from the Vallejo Sun, both before and after publication of the June investigation.
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