Frequently Asked Questions
Safe at Home FAQs
Safe at Home only forwards first-class mail and service of process. Therefore if a participant wants to receive a package or magazine, it is recommended to use a trusted family or friend’s address for delivery purposes, or Mail Boxes, Etc. To receive WIC supplies (Department of Health), it is recommended to meet the Department of Health staff member at a neutral location to pick up supplies (i.e., local coffee shop, laundromat, trusted family or friend’s house). Remember, the purpose of being a participant in the Safe at Home program is to minimize the amount of people that know where the victim actually lives.
How can a participant keep their address confidential with the utility companies and other agencies that require a physical address?
The Safe at Home law requires state and local government to accept the use of the substitute address for any public record that is created or updated on behalf of a program participant. It is recommended that a program participant request that all the agencies, from which they receive services, accept the substitute address.
Although private companies do not have to accept the substitute address, many businesses will be willing to do so. Don’t hesitate to ask them.
The phone company, oil company and power utility all need to know where the home is for service purposes and, therefore, require an actual address. In these cases, it is recommended that program participants speak with the customer service supervisor to try to make special arrangements to provide for level of confidentiality. For example, Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service have both agreed to use an alias name in the database to prohibit access of a program participant’s actual name and address. Also, the Department of Motor Vehicles will accept the substitute address for all program participants.
Initial program participation lasts for four (4) years upon acceptance into the program. However, a participant can remain in the Safe at Home program indefinitely, provided that an updated application form is completed at the expiration of the four-year term.
Since the application form requires an actual physical address, it is not practical to apply while in a shelter because most shelter addresses are confidential. Once the applicant has secured safe housing to which they can relocate, they can complete the application form even if they will be living in the shelter for a few more days. For example, if the applicant knows they will be moving to 10 Main Street in a week, they can complete an application form while in the shelter, and by the time they are living at the new residence, they will have received all the program materials to begin using the substitute address. The program materials can only be sent to the actual address.
No, program rules require all participants to physically reside in the state of Vermont, as well as utilizing a Vermont address to receive their mail. An out-of-state applicant who will be moving to Vermont can apply once they know what their Vermont address will be. There are also a number of other states that have address confidentiality programs. They can be found in the “Useful Links” area of the website.