Safe Shelter announced Thursday that it will construct a building next spring to house its offices and living space for domestic violence and sexual abuse victims.
Lynne Tally, Safe Shelter executive director, said the project became possible when Mary Newman approached Safe Shelter with a donation to build the new facility.
“What perfect timing and what a gift,” Tally said at a press conference Thursday.
Safe Shelter provides crisis intervention, counseling, referral services, emergency shelter and other services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Stutsman and Foster counties.
The new building, “Mary’s Place,” will have the Safe Shelter offices in front and three apartments, Tally said. There will be two onebedroom apartments and one two-bedroom apartment.
Newman said although she has no personal experience with domestic violence, everyone knows someone who does. Newman also contributed to building Lakes Crisis and Resource Center in Detroit Lakes, Minn., about five years ago.
“It’s wonderful to be in a position to share with people who need the money more than we do,” Newman said.
The building will be located on the Anne Carlsen Center campus, Tally said. Anne Carlsen Center CEO Eric Monson said collaborating with organizations in the community is something the center wants to do.
“We’re pleased to be able to help meet the needs in the community and be part of this important service in Jamestown,” Monson said.
Safe Shelter received $200,000 from the state’s Community Development Block Grant to help pay for the building, Tally said. The organization is launching a capital campaign to raise the remaining funds.
The project cost is over $800,000, said Tena Lawrence, Safe Shelter capital campaign chair. She said an endowment goal for the project hasn’t been set. The amount of Newman’s donation is not being announced at this time.
Tally said beginning about three or four years ago, as North Dakota’s population grew, finding housing for survivors became difficult. The lack of available housing meant victims of domestic violence and assault were staying with Safe Shelter for longer periods of time, Tally said.
Stutsman County Housing Authority Executive Director David Klein said there have been limited housing options in the last several years, making it difficult to find safe, decent and affordable units for Safe Shelter’s clients.
Klein said it can be difficult to quickly rehouse domestic violence victims because of low credit and rental history.
Homeless and emergency shelters in other parts of the state have regularly been too full or understaffed to help people from Jamestown, Klein said. There needs to be a more permanent solution, Klein said, and the Housing Authority has been an advocate of Safe Shelter making this move.
Tally said over the years she resisted constructing a large building where people do not have their own space.
“It was a real gift to find a donor who understood that people need to have dignity and autonomy,” Tally said.
More communities are moving away from placing people in communal living situations and helping them find housing more quickly, Tally said.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development began distributing funds for rapid rehousing in 2008. Rapid rehousing is a strategy used in communities to quickly move people out of shelters or homelessness and into housing through financial assistance.
According to the department’s Family Options Study, rapid rehousing helped families move more quickly out of shelters, fewer families returned to homelessness, and it increased the household’s self-sufficiency.
Tally said Safe Shelter’s goal is to put an end to domestic violence and sexual abuse, but until that can happen, survivors need a safe place to turn to for help. Survivors and their children will be able to stay up to four months at the new facility while finding permanent housing.
“We’re hoping it will meet the needs we’re seeing right now,” Tally said.