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Domestic Violence Center aims to add 6 transitional homes
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Gateway House volunteer Rosemary Stefanoff straightens up one of the bedrooms in the organization's housing facility. Gateway House is raising money to build new transitional housing for victims of domestic violence. - photo by Tom Reed | The Times

Gateway Domestic Violence Center announced Wednesday morning it is planning to build additional transitional housing for victims of domestic violence.


The shelter currently provides services for about 1,000 women and children a year. Last year, 177 families lived in its emergency shelter.


"We haven't seen a real increase in clients but the people who've come to us here have needed more time, more shelter, which is part of the reason why we find transitional housing so important," Jessica Butler, Gateway executive director, said.


The average stay for a family in the emergency shelter has increased over the last few years from 30 days to around 50 days. Butler said she thinks the economy is the reason the additional time is needed.


Once a family moves out of the shelter Gateway has three transitional apartments where a selected family can stay for six months while the mother works and saves up money to get a place of her own.


Gateway has raised $465,000 for the construction of the new transitional homes.


Three duplexes will be built and will provide an additional six transitional homes to families trying to get back on their feet.
Butler said they won't begin construction until they've met their million-dollar goal. She said though the houses could be built for less, they want to be sure the homes are furnished and that they will be able to maintain the buildings.


Though there is still more than $500,000 to go before reaching the goal, the project is well on its way to becoming a reality.


The Kiwanis Club donated the property where the three new duplexes will be built.


Steve Cornelison with the Gainesville Kiwanis Hope Foundation said the property was purchased a few years ago with the intention of being used for transitional housing for homeless children.


After the property sat vacant for a few years, Cornelison said he is glad the property will be used for its intended purpose.


"We're proud to say that we are going to permit the land to this project that Gateway is trying to do. We're also proud that our members have supported us this far and we believe they will support Gateway and we hope that one day soon we will see the spade hitting the earth to do the housing goals so that our vision comes true, too," Cornelison said.


The plans for the buildings were provided by Habitat for Humanity, which also will provide volunteers and build the structures.


Gateway also has received some sizable grants from First Baptist Church in Gainesville and The Hall County Junior League.


The project is called "Power of We" because the group is relying on the help of the community and community organizations to reach its $1 million goal.


"Our priority for this year is raising the rest of the funds for this housing.
"We're just trying to let people know about the need in the community of domestic violence victims and hope for continued communitywide support," Butler said.

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