Efforts to construct a domestic violence shelter in Klickitat County continue steadily, with just under half the funding goal met.

That includes a $250,000 award from the state for construction costs, as well as a $20,000 donation from Skyline Foundation, an anonymous donation and $40,000 grant from Klickitat County. The figure excludes donation pledges.

Even as Gov. Jay Inslee slashed parts of the state budget to offset the economic consequences of the state’s response to the virus, the $250,000 request submitted to the state as part of the supplemental capital construction budget was left untouched as the 2020 legislative session rolled to a close.

“I’m very glad we have the funding to get this shelter started and help domestic violence survivors in our local area,” Dist. 14 Rep. Gina Mosbrucker said in a press release.

Even with this influx of cash, there still remain some bumps in the road, said Programs for Peaceful Living Director Kirsten Poole.

Poole explained Programs for Peaceful Living, the WAGAP program dedicated to providing resources to survivors of abuse and domestic violence and the group undertaking the project, had applied for another $250,000 grant from the Firstenburg Foundation, but was denied. Another application was never heard back from.

Poole said she remains positive about the future of the project, even as she observes more money suddenly being put towards more direct actions against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“I feel very strongly that had (the pandemic) not gone on, we would have been fully funded,” Poole said.

 

PFPL is regrouping after learning news about the recent grant denials and looking to the future. Poole said they are working with the owners of a possible site for the future domestic violence shelter. The site would be able to shelter 22 individuals for 30- to 60-day stays. Poole said even as they experience setbacks, the team is seeing an eagerness from the community to see this project through.

As Poole explained, while funding is being reallocated away from other causes, the need for survivor advocacy remains at an all time high. In a pandemic situation where suddenly, partners are quarantined together and social distancing is in effect, advocates needed to adapt to the situation and think creatively to reach out to clients.

This includes PFPL’s partnering sources of shelter. By observing social distancing, hotels and other partners are limiting capacity. On a couple occasions, advocates have had to turn down clients for shelter, instead providing tents and sleeping bags for the night, although Poole added the team has enough supplies to meet immediate needs.

“When everything is full, tensions get higher. Knowing there isn’t squat we can do ... you can feel the squeeze,” Poole said.

One of the more crucial aspects of the role PFPL plays, Poole noted, is the creation of a personalized safety plan for their clients. Because survivors often know the abuse they receive, advocates work with them to draw up a way to escape a dangerous situation.

 

Poole says she feels a sense of vulnerability when she thinks about the families that want to reach out for help but cannot or will not out of fear, “then you take a deep breath, ask yourself what am I doing to help, then go from there.”

It is a challenge not being able to meet face-to-face with clients to provide them with resources, Poole said.

“Sure, they want to get out, but with what? And how?” Poole pondered during an interview.

On a certain level, the problem is not the fact that people are staying inside, but rather that we are staying silent about the problem, Poole explained. Even as she notes incidents of domestic violence rising in police logs, she is not noticing an increase in calls for support.

“How do you bring it to the light instead of treating it like this shameful thing?” Poole said. “Your sister, your cousin, your mom are not talking about it because it is a crime of silence,” Poole continued. “I want to scream it from the mountaintops, ‘Our community does need help!’”

PFPL is asking for donations, in-kind or by check (write out to WAGAP, and in the memo line, write “for PFPL DV Project”).

 

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