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Gainesville domestic violence center asked to speak on national housing webinar
Group planning new facility by end of 2020
Karen Staley, right, and Herminia Fonseca unpack kitchen items inside a new Gateway House transitional apartment before it opened in 2013.

Selected as a “model program” for domestic violence transitional housing, Gateway Domestic Violence Center gave tips to more than 120 other groups looking to develop their own.

Gateway was selected as one of three programs by the National Network to End Domestic Violence for a webinar last month.

“What the (National Network to End Domestic Violence) was dealing with was that a lot of programs in other communities were having difficulty even beginning to think about how to raise money and develop transitional housing programs,” Gateway’s executive director Jessica Butler said.

In 2009, Gateway’s board identified the need for more housing, and the group completed the units in 2015. The result was 10 apartments housing families with children who have lived in the emergency shelter operated by Gateway. Families selected are working toward goals such as education or self-sufficiency, staying from 6 to 24 months.

In 2016, 19 women and 39 children stayed in Gateway’s transitional housing, according to Gateway spokeswoman Erin Williamson.

Butler’s comments during the webinar focused on the supportive nature of the Gainesville-Hall County community and the “Power of We” campaign for neighboring organizations to help donate.

“We were fortunate that we didn’t really have troubles with our program or our fundraising. In fact, we ended up developing a larger program than we initially envisioned because of all the community support,” Butler said.

In March, the group announced a campaign for a new emergency shelter, which it hopes to be in before Dec. 31, 2020.

The Gainesville shelter was built to house 15 people in 1983, at a time when the county population was just above 80,000. As of July 2016, U.S. Census reports estimate roughly 196,000 Hall County residents. Butler said the shelter has often housed more than 20 people at a time.

Butler said the goal for the new shelter would be a minimum 15,000-square-facility in Gainesville that would be close to public transportation and job opportunities.

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