NEW CASTLE Crisis center gets building funds

Women will receive counseling, child care and education in the long-term housing units.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Homeless women and children who are battered and abused in Lawrence County will soon have a place to stay for up to two years.
The Women's Shelter/Rape Crisis Center has secured enough money to build transitional housing for up to six families on its property on State Street near the city limits, said Jeannette Rice, executive director.
The center is raising money to build new offices and a temporary shelter on that same piece of property. The project is expected to cost about $2.9 million.
Money for the transitional housing unit will come from state and federal grants. City council is expected this week to approve a $247,450 grant application to the Pennsylvania Home Investment Partnership Program.
That money will serve as a match to a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, she said.
Rice said the state application is a formality and the money from both agencies has already been earmarked for the center.
Here's the situation: Long-term housing for homeless women and children is sorely needed in Lawrence County, Rice said.
"We may not think there is a homeless problem because we don't see these people on the street, but we work with a lot of folks who are staying with this person for a week or two and then move onto another house. It's not like they are on the street homeless, but they don't have their own home, either," she said.
Battered women and children can stay in the center's current shelter for up to 30 days, but often that is not enough time to secure a job and a permanent place to live, she said.
Here's the purpose: The long-term housing unit will allow the women to receive counseling, possibly complete their general equivalence diplomas and have child care when they are working.
"People in that situation need the supportive services to help them correct the problems that may have contributed to why they are homeless. It could be because they don't have the skills to get a job that pays a wage that will allow them to pay rent, or they may not have someone to care for their children," Rice said.
Architectural plans for the long-term unit, temporary shelter and new offices are still being considered by city and state housing officials. Rice said they hope to start construction sometime later this year.
About $1 million is still needed to pay for construction of the temporary shelter and offices, she said. Private foundations and local donors have pledged nearly $1 million for the center.

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