By Rachel Wulff

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Addiction and mental health issues have increased along with domestic violence cases during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One local non-profit is expanding to take in those seeking help.

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“When I came in, I had attempted suicide 8 times that year,” said one woman who wanted to be identified as Kristina.

Kristina is part of the St. John’s Program for Real Change. She was working in the health care field in Oakland when she relapsed and became homeless.

“I lost my housing. I was living in hotels and on the streets and I was really falling apart,” she said.

As Kristina celebrates one year of sobriety, she is preparing to move into one of the new 11 modular homes called St. John’s Square.

“This is the first of its kind in the region,” said CEO Julie Hirota.

Hirota says the City of Sacramento and Project Homekey helped make the $4 million project happen. Women can live in 850 square-foot homes for up to two years. This adds 55 more spaces on top of the 240 beds already at their facility – and the need is greater than ever due to the pandemic

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“Homeless children ended up more homeless on the street during this time because they no longer were able to go to a school for all the wonderful services that schools can provide,” said Hirota.

The homes provide a structure of support for women and children, providing counseling and helping them build rental and credit history, along with building trust by building relationships.

“Historically, the challenge with domestic violence is the isolation piece,” said Tasha Lee, a licensed therapist. “The pandemic just amplified that.”

Marisol Garcia says the tools have proven beneficial for her and her son.

“I’ve actually learned to not make excuses and just to keep trying your hardest. And even if you don’t think there’s support, there’s support,” Garcia said.

Kristina is grateful as well. She just landed a full-time job.

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“St. John’s has set me up. I have so many opportunities from being here,” she said.