Shelters Will Close or Reduce Service During Shutdown

Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio
June 28, 2011

St. Paul, Minn. — One domestic violence shelter will temporarily close if the state government shuts down Friday, the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women said.

Jeanne Jacobs is the executive director of Someplace Safe, which operates a 10-bed shelter in Fergus Falls. She says her program has begun relocating residents and preparing in other ways for a shutdown.

“We have been limiting the number of people that we were taking this week. We were concerned about taking women and children in, and then having to route them out,” Jacobs said.

The organization has no reserves and needs state reimbursements to continue staffing the shelter. Jacobs has asked the state to pay the shelter by Thursday, one day before a potential government shutdown.

Jacobs says if state payments stop, her program wouldn’t be able to staff the center.

“We’ve been told that there’s no guarantee in a government shutdown that we’d receive reimbursement for any expenditures during the shutdown. We are then not able to operate because we have no reserves,” she said.

Jacobs recently eliminated 16 positions at Someplace Safe. She says the program had to deplete its reserves because the recession crippled fund-raising efforts.

Three additional shelters may reduce services. The state funds more than two dozen domestic-violence shelters. Many provide therapy and other programs. The Women of Nations shelter will be able to stay open for another month after a government shutdown.

Advocates for domestic-violence victims say the shelters and other programs could mean the difference between life and death. They’re asking a Ramsey County judge to deem the services as essential.