The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

August 10, 2013

Women's shelter preps for closure

Former shelter residents speak out against facility, staff

OTTUMWA — Ottumwa's crisis center will continue providing victim services while its women's shelter shuts down, but some women are unhappy about the way things are run.

The shelter part of Ottumwa's Crisis Center and Women's Shelter will close Sept. 30, said executive director Cheryl Brown.

In May, the Iowa Attorney General's Office, which oversees crime victim assistance, announced that due to a cut in federal funding, 12 of the state's 20 women's shelters would close. Instead, the state was split into regions of service — continuing a trend of regionalization most recently seen in the state's mental health redesign — which will each have one or two shelters, a sexual assault service provider and a domestic abuse service provider.

"We received transitional funds to operate for the next three months full time for our shelter and transition out of other services until December," she said.

Domestic abuse services will continue in Ottumwa, Brown said, and the crisis line (1-800-464-8340) will be answered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

There are currently 11 people staying at the shelter, she said.

"We are winding down, though," she said. "We're not taking new admissions unless they're very short-term."

But Marlene Doyle, 63, who arrived at the Crisis Center in May from Texas, has concerns about lice and bedbugs at the center.

"I was moved in with a person with active head lice, and I told them I would not stay in my room, so I was moved to the hall and then I moved to my truck," she said. "I've been living in my truck for three weeks on the property of the shelter."

Police Chief Tom McAndrew said he's not aware of any incidents reported at the shelter.

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