General Assembly Restores Domestic Violence Shelter Funds

Jennifer Shrader
April 13, 2011

After weeks of lobbying, a Georgia House and Senate budget committee has restored $1 million in state funds for domestic violence programs and $655,000 for sexual assault programs statewide.

Gov. Nathan Deal previously had said he wouldn’t be giving any money to those programs in the upcoming budget year.

That would have meant a loss of about $80,000 for Harmony House, Troup County’s domestic violence shelter.

“They kept saying they’d replace that with federal money,” director Michele Bedingfield told LaGrange City Council on Tuesday.

The federal funds would have meant, however, that the money could be used only for women with children, not any single women.

“We wouldn’t turn anyone away, but that would put a strain on us,” Bedingfield said.

When the cuts first were announced, shelters across the state began calling legislators and lobbying in Atlanta to keep the money, causing Deal to look again at his plan. Bedingfield sent the email with the good news about the funding to supporters of the shelter Tuesday afternoon.

In the meantime, City Council signed off on a grant request Harmony House is making to the state Department of Community Affairs. Harmony House is seeking a $23,865 emergency shelter grant.

DCA awarded the shelter grants in previous years, and Harmony House has received money in its five-year history, usually averaging around $9,000 a year.

Bedingfield said the super-sized grant request was made this year, in part because of uncertainty with the state funding.

The money could be used for a number of the shelter’s needs, including food, utilities, fuel for vans the shelter uses, rent assistance and shelter operations.