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Gateway Domestic Violence Center gets $50K grant for housing

Apartments projected for construction in 2013

POSTED: May 17, 2011 11:20 p.m.

The Gateway Domestic Violence Center is making progress with plans to build six transitional apartments for families recovering from the cycle of violence.

The center recently received a $50,000 grant from the Junior League of Gainesville-Hall County. But with a price tag of at least $500,000, the project is still far from a reality, said executive director Jessica Butler.

"Junior League has given us some seed money, but we'll go to the community this fall to ask for communitywide support," Butler said.

The apartments, projected for construction in 2013, would fill what Butler sees as a void of transitional homes where women can build their financial and emotional strength while on the path to full independence.

"People want to know why would a victim of domestic violence stay in an abusive relationship? One of the answers to that question is it's financially difficult to leave an abusive relationship for many women," Butler said. "So we feel that providing this housing, we're going to give women an opportunity to get on their feet and live safely."

The center currently has three transitional apartments, which families can move into following their stay in the emergency shelter.

Butler said the average stay time at the shelter, about 50 days last year, has gone up dramatically as women struggle to find work and build financial stability in an unstable economy. She said the new two-bedroom townhouses would most likely be offered rent-free and women could stay for about six months.

"The first goal of course is just having a safe place to live," she said. "Also we are hoping that women will be able to find work and start saving up money for their own places because hooking up utilities and rent deposits can be very expensive, especially to someone who hasn't been working."

The center received the Junior League's Signature Grant, awarded every five years to a local nonprofit. Junior League President-Elect Gerran Syfan said Gateway's proposal was in line with the organization's commitment to empowering women and children in Hall County.

"(The housing) is ongoing and will continue to serve the community," she said. "... We can help (Gateway) help women it our in community through this transitional housing. They'll have some place to go when they're in need."

The new apartments will be built on land pledged by the local Kiwanis Club, Butler said.

"One of the hardest decisions that we as a staff have to make is who gets that resource of an apartment when we have five or six families living in the emergency shelter and have to decide when an apartment become available," Butler said. "It is such a life changing resource."



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