Domestic violence victims' safehouse in danger of closing due to funding cuts

JASPER, TX (KTRE) - An East Texas safehouse for domestic violence victims is in danger of being shut down after a half of their federal funding was unexpectedly cut.

The two women who run the shelter say they're scrambling to find a way to keep their doors open.

The Piney Woods Safehouse in Jasper recently learned $50,000 worth of federal grant money would not be hitting their bank account this year.

Director of Piney Woods Safehouse, Wanda Whitcomb says, "Without that this shelter as it's known to operate is going to stop unless we can find the funds."

Whitcomb says the shelter has been receiving the "Violence Against Women Act" grant for more than 10 years.

"We have 15 women and children in our shelter," said Whitcomb. "We're a 10 bed facility so we're running over maximum this year."

And the safehouse's clients are already feeling the impact.

"We started letting the ladies know that we were going to have to relocate them, that was sad because a couple of them panicked and they went back to their abusive situations," said Whitcomb.

Piney Woods Safehouse needs help raising $17,000 to keep their doors open until December 31st, but after that their future is uncertain.

"No way have we ever put a woman or child on the street and we certainly won't do it on December 31st," said Whitcomb.

"You know it's not anything that the shelters are doing wrong," said Whitcomb. "It's just that the grants are likes pies and a long time ago the pie was big and not so many people were eating pies, they were eating cake evidentially, so everybody got a piece of the pie when they asked for it and now pies are getting smaller and there's a whole lot more people eating pie."

Whitcomb says relocating would be a difficult transition in the recovery process.

"They will be leaving everything that they know for an area that they know nothing about which a really hard thing for them to do especially if they do have support here and some of these women do work, the children are in school"

But Whitcomb remains optimistic….

"We can be saved but it's going to take the very communities we're serving to do it," said Whitcomb.

"We are trying to find grants that are available," said Whitcomb. "Some of these grants only have certain times of the year that you can apply for them so that kind of narrows the ball field a little bit for us but we are actively trying to find and search. Plus, we have a lot of people in the community who will call us and say...hey I'm a grant write, have you heard of this grant or have you heard of that grant, so we're getting support in a lot of various ways not just financially."

The two person staff at the shelter says they are thankful the community is really coming together and trying to help in any way possible.

Whitcomb says she's heard through the grapevine a lot of other shelters have taken a hit as well and some have even closed their doors already.

If you want to help the shelter, make suggestions or donations:

Call: 409-384-1225


Mail: P.O. Box 1392, Jasper, TX, 75951

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