SafeHope seeking expansion

Chad Frey

According to SafeHope, population within the organization’s safe house facility has remained stable throughout the past six months, a time period filled with COVID-19 and stress.

But while the shelter is not taking in more-than-normal numbers, there is still a problem. The shelter is just too small.

“The shelter is very tight, and we have common areas that everyone needs to access,” said Courtney Becker, of SafeHope.

Becker said they have never had specific funding for emergency accommodations separate from the shelter.

Sometimes it is better to do an accommodation outside of the shelter, he said.

“We have had several months now that we have had large family units, and our shelter is just too small,” said Kim Ratzlaff, executive director of SafeHope.

The shelter has resorted to putting some clients in hotel rooms — an expense that is not something the organization can take on long term.

“That is something that we have not had specific funding for,” said Courtney Becker, director of the Resiliency Center. “... CARES act funding has been essential to help us navigate the COVID situation.”

The organization was awarded a grant of $122,022 from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation — about double the amount normally received by SafeHope on an annual basis through the grant program.

Those funds will be able to help with hotel costs. The shelter also was able to get a “small amount” of CARES act funds to help with those costs.

SafeHope, based in Newton, provides advocacy and support to abuse survivors and secondary victims of domestic and sexual violence in Harvey, Marion and McPherson counties.

SafeHope offers shelter for those fleeing abuse,. The current shelter facility has space for 10 people. The organization is planning for a new shelter with space for families, and up to about 30 people.

“With COVID, we feel a lot of pressure to get that project moving,” Becker said. “... We have been in fundraising mode for some time. We have a multi-stage plan to get to that. The first stage would replace our existing shelter with the same number of beds at our (office). The next phase would add on a facility with about 20 beds.“

SafeHope services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.