The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

June 25, 2013

Where will they go?


But Oskaloosa has its own residents, and advocates like Brown don't want to put crisis shelters into a crisis, though.

Right now, Brown and her staff are working with the women to find them a better living situation. That means women and their children will be looking for permanent homes. Brown said Ottumwa has a shortage of affordable, clean housing. If there's some she hasn't seen, she said, she'd like community members to contact her. Not all of the women have been working on plans; some are in that angry stage where something that has kept them safe is being taken away. Brown said there is a type of grieving process at work — even for employees, some of whom will lose their jobs but are sticking around to help women make plans.

They may have a little bit of time. An agency is considering giving the Ottumwa shelter enough to stay open a few more weeks.

"Shelters are supposed to be a stopgap measure for the poorest women in the most dangerous circumstances," Brown said.

Those women can get close to full support, whereas others would get varying levels of assistance.

A woman who, with help from a crisis shelter, escaped a violent relationship told the Courier she knows what will happen. Even if shelters are full, mothers will not let their children be homeless, nor will they leave the children alone in a house with a violent resident. She said she's afraid.

"They'll move back in with their abuser," worried the woman.

"They cut funding at the federal level, they cut it at the state level," said Gaskill. "They've been cutting and cutting. You keep fighting for it, but they keep cutting."

"You've got to have a safety net," said Gaskill. "I was of the opinion that is what government was for. I get very discouraged when I wonder why people don't understand the need. I don't know what they think will happen to people."

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