The government shutdown hurts our most vulnerable people disproportionately. This isn’t a political opinion piece; it’s about creating safety for those who need it most. For 26 years, the staff, board, and donors of Safer Path Family Violence Shelter (formerly Atascosa Family Crisis Center) have moved mountains to open a shelter here in Pleasanton. Our community has given generously to build the shelter. We secured a federal grant to operate the shelter. The shutdown has put a halt to all of our federal grant income, completely changing the trajectory of this agency. After years of work and planning, the construction of the shelter is complete, but you cannot safely operate a 24/7 domestic violence shelter without trained staff, insurance, security monitoring, groceries, basic supplies, telephones, electricity, water – all of which cost money. Money we planned for, budgeted around, and now do not have access to. This situation is not a financial management issue on our part, or a lack of commitment from our community. Federal Grants work on a reimbursement basis. You spend the money, then you get reimbursed. We have spent significant dollars on shelter supplies in anticipation of opening this week. We spent those dollars, which were all planned and budgeted for, under the assumption that our reimbursements would proceed as usual. They have not.
We have a plan in place that will allow us to provide our existing services, without providing shelter, to rural victims of domestic violence for 30 days, and reduced services for 2 weeks after that. Atascosa and the surrounding counties are already desperately underserved. Our clients can’t afford to go without services. Our staff of advocates do not deserve to do this difficult, demanding, dangerous work without a paycheck.
Thinking about our clients finally working up the courage to leave a dangerous situation, then having nowhere to go because we can’t operate this shelter our community has worked so hard to build is heartbreaking. If you are a prayer – pray. If you are an activist – call people in office and ask for an end to this shutdown. If you’re in a position to give – give. Safer Path needs your support now more than ever. You can mail checks to PO Box 688, Pleasanton TX 78064 or give via our Go- FundMe page: www.gofundme.com/6pfd4sg.
RHONDA WILLIAMSON is the Executive Director for Safer Path Family Violence Shelter.