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Since sequester, abuse victims turned away from shelters due to decreased funding

By Mike Anderson | Posted - Mar 7th, 2013 @ 7:02pm

OGDEN — With the statewide budget cuts made since the sequester, many domestic violence programs are worried about having to decrease the number of people they can help.

Julee Smith, the director of Your Community Connection in Ogden, said she works with people every day who are running from violent situations. She said many abuse victims need a place to stay, and due to the lack of funding, she has had to start turning them away.

"We literally had a lady call, she had four children and begged to get in our shelter," Smith said. "She said, 'I have 45 minutes to get out.' And we said 'We're sorry, we don't have any room.' And then the police call and say that she has been abused again."

Smith said she has started petitioning the State Legislature for more funding. The YCC shelter serves victims in Weber and Morgan counties, and due to the budget cuts the shelter's funding will be reduced by 23 percent, which equates to about $79,000.

Smith said the reduced funding will also mean reduced wages for the staff. She said some of the employees are already barely making minimum wage.

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For the victims who have received help from the domestic violence shelter, they said they can't imagine being turned away. Megan Holwuttle and her three boys made their home at Your Community Connection after escaping from an abusive relationship in Colorado.

"My boys witnessed me getting beat up," Holwuttle said. "We spent two years homeless — bouncing to the domestic violence shelter that was in the city we came from and then the homeless shelters. We've spent three months in a car."

Holwuttle and her family were given housing in one of the 26 apartments at the YCC shelter, and they also received counseling. She said she couldn't imagine what would have happened if the shelter hadn't reached out to them.

"It's very scary," Holwuttle said. "They help me sort out ways to deal with it that are better than just quitting, just giving up, just going back."

Smith said she hopes that donors and the state will step in and help more families in need. The YCC had plans for an expansion to triple the number of apartments, but Smith said the shelter won't have the available counseling for their residents after the decreased funding.

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