Workers at 15 domestic violence shelters are anxiously awaiting word on whether funding will be available for those shelters after learning that they had been turned down for a grant.
The Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) is in its second year of being administered by the Missouri Housing Development Commission. The Commission’s staff rejected the applications of those 15 shelters, most of them in rural parts of the state, and has not yet released explanations of the rejections. The Commission has not yet voted on the awarding of those grants.
The shelters whose applications had been rejected are in Cape Girardeau, Clinton, Harrisonville, Lebanon, Moberly, Bolivar, Doniphan, Sedalia, Sikeston, Lexington, Nevada, Parkville, Portageville and one each in St. Louis and Kansas City. A shelter in Springfield had an application for shelter funds rejected, but was approved for other ESG grant money.
When the administration of Governor Jay Nixon (D) was informed of the situation by state lawmakers whose districts included those shelters, it began looking for ways to make sure they would be funded. The Office of Administration says several options are being considered but a mechanism hasn’t been decided on.
That’s encouraging news to Kelly Pedigo, Co-Director at Safe Passage in Moberly, but it’s still a long way from a solution.
“This is far from over,” she tells Missourinet.
The ESG reimburses recipients for expenses already paid. The grant coverage cycle begins April 1. Pedigo says her shelter can’t go very long paying bills without confidence that money is coming for that reimbursement.
“Locating replacement funding is a have-to thing. There’s nowhere else in (our) budget to cut,” says Pedigo.
Safe Passage applied for more than $28,000 dollars, but like most shelters, didn’t anticipate receiving the full amount. Getting cut completely was a shock.
“When your entire annual budget is around $250,000 and you just took out $20,000 of your essential expenses, that hits pretty hard,” says Pedigo.
She says the loss of that funding at Safe Passage would cause employees to be laid off, but it could also result in the loss of matching federal funds.
“Once you start having to lay people off because you can’t afford the general revenue portion of their salary,” Pedigo says, “then you have to start turning down government funding as well, so it’s a really slippery slope.”
Ann Gosnell with House of Hope, Inc. in Lexington says local fundraising efforts are an option, but can only go so far in rural areas.
“It becomes burdensome on our community, which is very supportive of House of Hope,” says Gosnell. “We have a lot of supporters, but … going to the same people over and over again to ask them for money to help run our program can sometimes put a barrier up between us and our community, and we absolutely don’t want that.”
She says it also puts the shelters at a disadvantage to not yet know why they lost the grant.
“It’s frustrating, then, to go into our community and say, ‘We need your help, but I can’t tell you why our funding was cut. I can’t tell you why other shelters are funded at 100-percent and we’re funded at zero.'”
Both Gosnell and Pedigo hope members of their communities will work to raise attention about the issue.
“Please go to your legislators and ask them what their plan is,” says Gosnell. “Ask what’s going on and ask what the solution is.”