State funds restored to shelter battered women, children | TheUnion.com

State funds restored to shelter battered women, children

Trina Kleist
Staff Writer

A shelter for battered women has reopened in western Nevada County and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday restored funding to keep it open at least until next summer.

Those who run the Grass Valley-area safe house, which can accommodate up to 12 people, hope to receive about $150,000 for the rest of the fiscal year.

“We don’t know for sure what (the funding) is going to look like,” said Executive Director Niko Johnson of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition, which runs the shelter. “It will only be for a year. It’s not the three-year commitment we had (earlier) with the California Public Health Department.”

DVSAC’s yearly budget to operate the house, staff it around-the-clock and provide basic services was projected at $207,000. That entire amount was slashed amid state budget cuts confronting California’s massive deficit.

Schwarzenegger cut programs across-the-board after legislators passed a budget this summer that fell $1 billion short of balancing projected income and expenses. The cuts affected 94 agencies across the state that help battered women, forcing six of them – including DVSAC – to close their shelters.

News of the closures made national headlines.

On Wednesday, the governor signed Senate Bill X3 13, which passed with bipartisan support. It provides for a one-time loan of $16.3 million from the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Fund for domestic violence shelters statewide for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

Shelters must repay the loan with interest at the rate earned by the Pooled Money Investment Account by June 30, 2013, the governor’s office reported.

“I want to congratulate the many groups that put victims first and came together to find this creative solution that will keep domestic violence shelters throughout the state open,” Schwarzenegger said.

He vowed to “continue to work for a permanent funding solution,” according to a statement from his office.

DVSAC’s shelter re-opened Oct. 12 after receiving $60,000 from the California Emergency Management Agency.

That funding was “not at the level of what we had lost,” Johnson said. “But we were able to get a staff person in there and open the doors.”

During the time the shelter was closed, 26 people sought emergency shelter through DVSAC, Johnson said. Staff found “other resources” to help some, but others decided to stay in their situation rather than face uncertainty in their housing, she added, calling such choices “heartbreaking.”

“In September, we received 215 calls on the crisis line,” Johnson said. “It’s been very busy the last few months.”

To contact City Editor Trina Kleist, e-mail tkleist@theunion.com or call 477-4230.


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