Local shelter refuses government funding after new regulations

DANVILLE, Ind. - New regulations were put in place for domestic-violence shelters that receive federal funding.

Some of the new rules would require women’s shelters to open their doors to men and organizations would have to remove all faith-based content.

Sheltering Wings in Danville is a women’s shelter that is making the tough choice to say no to government funding -- which makes up about 20 percent of its budget.

The annual budget at Sheltering Wings is a little over a million dollars. The change means that starting in 2015, they will have a shortfall of $200,000 in federal funding.  

Leaders at Sheltering Wings are appealing to local businesses, churches and individuals for support to make up for the shortfall.

Cassie Martin said one in four women are affected by domestic violence. She said one in 11 men are also victims of domestic violence and she recognizes the need for men to get housing.

"However we don't feel the appropriate response is for women and men to be housed together," Martin said.

Sheltering Wings currently houses 22 women and 36 children who are all victims of domestic violence.

"For the women that come in here, we've heard them say that if there was a man that was housed in here, they put up a guard, they put up a barrier, it's a defense mechanism and I certainly could understand that," Martin said.

If Sheltering Wings continued to accept federal and state funding, it would have to remove all of its Christian faith-based messages. That’s a compromise the organization was not willing to make.

"That really is an integral part of our history of the foundation, of the hope and the healing we can offer to the women and children," Martin said.

If the shelter is not able to raise the money that they are losing in federal funding, they will have to consider cutting out some non-essential programs. 

Follow Drew Smith on Twitter: @drewsmith1

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