The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

May 18, 2013

YWCA pushes forward with shelter

By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer

---- — CLINTON — The Clinton YWCA will no longer receive government funding for its domestic violence and sexual assault resource center, but Executive Director Lori Freudenberg said her organization was prepared and will continue to offer services for victims.

The state attorney general's office recently notified 12 shelters that they no longer will receive government funding as part of an effort to more effectively spend the dwindling money that is available. The money instead will be focused on eight larger shelters, which Freudenberg said prompted her not to submit a grant application.

"We knew the grants would go to larger shelters. We knew that the expectations of the grant were something we could not meet," Freudenberg said. "We decided to go on fundraising and be a good partner."

Janelle Melohn, director of crime victim assistance in the attorney general's office, said the changes are needed to help victims at a time when federal funding that is passed through the state government has repeatedly dropped. This year, the office has split the state into six regions and grouped grants into three types so each region will have at least one shelter, one domestic abuse service and one sexual assault service provider.

Clinton is part of a 14-county region that also includes Davenport, Iowa City, Burlington, Muscatine and Keokuk.

Shelters losing funding are in Dubuque, Atlantic, Ottumwa, Ames, Burlington, Clinton, Keokuk, Marshalltown, Mason City, Muscatine Sioux Center and Spencer.

The shelters receiving funding are in Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Iowa City, Oskaloosa, Sioux City and Waverly.

As part of the regionalization, the shelters that were selected to receive the funds will need to provide services to all victims within their region.

The funding begins July 1.

While other shelters across the state are scrambling for funds to continue programs, Clinton YWCA officials planned to be without the government funds and made other plans to care for victims.

The YWCA's board already committed to maintaining the services. Freudenberg expects a seamless transition for community members who seek the services.

"Our goal is to reach $100,000 and we are confident we will get there," Freudenberg said. "It will be a year-by-year effort, but we have seen that this community realizes how vital our service is."

In February, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller asked state lawmakers for a one-time $6 million authorization, which would help shelters as the state moved to its new regional system, but the request appears stalled as the Legislature nears adjournment.

The Senate approved the spending, but the House has so far declined.

Rep. Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton, introduced the rejected amendment that would have granted the $6 million.

"I was disappointed. We certainly have the funds available and it's a valuable program," Wolfe said.

Even without legislative approval, Wolfe said she would like to see programs like the Clinton YWCA receive some funding to get them through the switch to a regional system.

"I'm hoping the attorney general's office will recognize that areas such as Clinton County have long-standing services that serve the community and while they might not meet the regional criteria, they will still be willing to supply them with some transitional funding," Wolfe said.

Freudenberg said while her organization will navigate the changes handed down by the attorney general's office, it also will persist in the charge for government funding.

"We will continue to lobby at the state and federal level to continue the services that are vital to people who, through no fault of their own, became victims. We cannot continue to victimize these people by not providing the services they need," Freudenberg said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.