Giving a helping hand

It’s an exciting time for the Domestic Violence Crisis Center as they are in the middle of a construction project to build a bigger and better emergency safe home and a second transitional living house.

Currently, the DVCC is in Phase Two of their four-phase project. The Minot Area Community Foundation has granted the funds to move ahead with the four-plex.

Construction of the Domestic Violence Crisis Center’s “New Beginnings” Campus started in 2012 with the DVCC office and the first Transitional Living Program four-plex. At the end of January 2013, the office moved into the campus and the first family moved into the Transitional Living Program four-plex in July 2013.

Dena Filler, executive director of the DVCC, said the building project is moving along. The goal is to have the four-plex apartments ready by the holidays and the emergency safe home ready for occupancy by early spring, she added.

Currently, the emergency safe home has only four bedrooms and has become too small for the current demand, Filler said. There have been many times, she added, where more than one individual or family has stayed in the same bedroom. It’s preferable that that not happen, but with the increase in people needing shelter, the overcrowding has been happening with greater frequency. Filler said sometimes the only place a victim can call their “own space” is the bed they’re sleeping in and that’s not the best situation for victims in crisis who are trying to make life-changing decisions.

An additional issue at the emergency safe home has been with fighting water in the basement in the spring when there was heavy snow melt or if there were heavy rains. This year, though, there has been water in the basement for most of the summer, Filler said, and the water came from the ground as well as through the walls. Making that an even bigger issue was that the basement was where all of the donated clothing was stored. Filler said the clothing had to be brought upstairs and the items not water damaged were put in rubber storage totes and placed on the back deck, then covered with tarps to protect the clothing. The DVCC has victims out on the deck searching through totes to find clothing for themselves and their children.

“Victims feel guilt and shame when leaving an abusive relationship,” Filler added. “To go outside to search for clothing only adds to the stress and humiliation they feel, so it’s not a good situation.”

The DVCC has been approved for a construction loan, but unfortunately will have to severely cut the program budget in order to afford the monthly payment, Filler said. The monthly loan payment on the construction loan will be $6,600, she added, but no current state or federal dollars can be used for construction loans or any type of new construction. Since the emergency safe home is such a crucial need, though, Filler said the DVCC has gone ahead with the construction with the hope that generous donors will assist with the project. There are two grants that are pending, she noted, but the center is still $800,000 short. “Someone can adopt a room if interested in helping,” Filler added.

There has been a definite need and increase in people seeking the services of the DVCC, too. It has come about “because of the stress due to affordable housing being hard to come by and stress from the flood,” Filler said. “It’s a combination of stressors that the community has faced since the flood.”

Currently, the emergency safe home is moderately sized, but it will doubly increase in size after completion of construction. “We’re going from a four-bedroom shelter to 10 bedrooms, so we’ll have more space overall,” Filler said.The new emergency safe home will have 10 bedrooms with five shared bathrooms, kitchen, dining room, main floor family room, children’s play room, women’s sitting room on the main floor, upstairs family room with play and computer areas, two half-bathrooms, staff offices, two laundry areas, upstairs storage area, mechanical room, donation storage areas and a secured front entrance along with secured hallways and staircases. Previously, in the current emergency safe home, there have been 17 to 22 people staying there at one time, she added, which is added stress to an already stressful situation.

“This is a big, exciting project that’s needed in the community and it will be the only campus of its kind in the state,” Filler said. “This will be a wonderful new beginning for everyone who passes through our doors.”