City receives $300K grant for shelter

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 24, 2001

NATCHEZ – The City of Natchez has received a $300,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Guardian Shelter at Oak Towers.

The HUD Supportive Services Grant will be used by the nonprofit to help give victims of domestic abuse the skills they need to make it on their own, said Catholic Charities Director Martha Mitternight.

&uot;We’re so grateful for this grant. It helps pay our expenses to work with women after their 30 emergency days at the shelter are up,&uot; Mitternight said.

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&uot;It’s our only funding for the supportive services program,&uot; said Guardian Shelter Director Sue Ann Brown. &uot;Without it, we wouldn’t have a program.&uot;

She added that a 25-percent match for the grant is funded by the United Way and proceeds from the Guardian Shelter’s thrift shop.

The city received a three-year grant in 1994 and another three-year grant renewal in 1998 to help fund such services, said James Johnston, the city’s community development director. The shelter itself first opened in July 1996.

Natchez was not given another three-year extension this year but instead was awarded the one-year, $300,000 grant.

But Brown said she and Johnston intend to start preparing an application for another three-year grant extension immediately after the Christmas holidays.

The Guardian Shelter at Oak Towers gives women and their children who are victims of domestic abuse an emergency place to stay for up to 30 days.

After that, programs funded with the Supportive Service Grant-funded programs kick in.

Women receiving help from the shelter can stay in the program for six months after their initial 30-day period expires.

&uot;The women can move out after their first 30 days but, if apartments are still available here (at Oak Towers), they’re encouraged to stay here,&uot; Mitternight said.

During that six months, women are assisted with finding employment and enrolling their children in child care or school &uot;so they can live independently,&uot; she said.

The women are required to attend support groups, and parenting classes are also available. The grant also provides such things as transportation and food and utility assistance, Brown said.

In recent years, the city has applied for and received almost $700,000 in construction grants and affordable housing funds for the shelter, not counting tax credits and rental assistance funds, Johnston said.