ST. GEORGE — After years of delays, the city broke ground a second time on Staten Island's first Family Justice Center.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray joined Borough President James Oddo, Acting District Attorney Daniel Master Jr., Councilwoman Debi Rose and others to break ground on the center, at 126 Stuyvesant Pl., which will offer support for victim's of domestic violence and their families.
"It's time for Staten Island to have this support available to people in need," de Blasio said.
"This building will soon be up and running. It may feel empty now, but in a few months it will be transformed into a precious resource for this community."
The center, which will cost an estimated $5.9 million to build, plans to open its doors early next year and will be the fifth of its kind in the city, officials said.
The site will host free services from multiple agencies for victims of intimate partner violence, elder abuse and sex trafficking to get support with legal consulting, housing assistance and job placement.
Rose Pierre-Louis, commissioner of the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence, said the city already implemented several services to help victims — including starting the city's first anti-stalking initiative last year — and the opening of the Family Justice Center will put them all in one spot.
Domestic violence cases have been on the rise in the past several years, but in the past year, the numbers have started to decrease — perhaps partly due to these new initiatives, Pierre-Louis said.
Last year, 16,000 Staten Island residents reported domestic violence cases, according to Rose. But the number of domestic-violence-related rapes have dropped by 40 percent in the past year, and felony assaults fell by more than 7 percent, according to de Blasio.
Master said he and former District Attorney Dan Donovan originally asked the city for the center in 2007. The city held a ground breaking in 2013 and originally planned to open it in 2014, but it was pushed back because of numerous delays on the opening of the new Staten Island Courthouse nearby.
"This has been a long time in the making," Master said.