Dove Center seeks grant from Washington City Council for additional housing units

ST. GEORGE — Representatives of the Dove Center approached the Washington City Council last week seeking funding from a federal grant allotted to the city for renovations on Erin’s Home, which the Dove Center uses for transitional housing of women escaping domestic and sexual violence.

The Washington City Council hears from representatives of the Dove Center as they ask for grant funding toward renovations to Erin’s Home, Washington City, Utah, Jan. 8, 2020 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Erin’s Home, which opened in 2015 under the management of the Erin Kimball Memorial Foundation, hosts three transitional housing units on its second floor.

Due to a need to supply additional housing, the Dove Center is planning to renovate the first floor into two additional housing units, as well as an office space for onsite services like counseling, court advocacy and case management.

“We’ve been able to serve several households in those transitional units, and we have identified a desperate need to increase those units,” Lindsey Boyer, executive director of the Dove Center, told the Washington City Council during its Jan. 8 meeting.

Boyer spoke during a public hearing held for groups asking for funding from the city via a Community Development Block Grant issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD sends an overall grant to the Five County Association of Governments, which then allots various amounts to associated entities like Washington City.

Washington City Manager Roger Carter said the Five County AOG anticipates receiving over $800,000 from HUD this year.

Carter also noted that this wouldn’t be the first time the city had sponsored a grant for Erin’s Home. In May 2013, the city approved $150,000 to go toward the completion of the home while it was still being renovated for use under the Erin Kimball Foundation.

The estimated cost of the Dove Center’s planned renovations are around $70,000-$75,000, Boyer said.

Erin’s Home during an open house, Washington City, Utah, May 7, 2015 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Grant money can only go toward that process and not other projects at the home, such as a facelift to the landscaping. It is anticipated that those additional costs will likely be covered by other community supporters of the Dove Center.

“We want our community dollars to go further with federal dollars,” Boyer said.

The Dove Center, which took over management of the Erin Kimball Memorial Foundation in 2017, maintains both emergency and transitional housing for individuals and those with families escaping abusive home lives.

Those who are able to gain access to transitional housing have a higher success rate of getting back on their feet than those who do not, Boyer said.

During the 2019 fiscal year, the Dove Center had 150 families exit their emergency shelter. Stays in the shelter, which is a communal living environment not meant for long-term residency, tend to last 30-90 days.

Of that 150, Boyer said, 10% were able to gain access to subsidized or transitional housing, while 6% were able to acquire nonsubsidized housing. Another 10% relocated out of the area, and 8% returned home to abusers. The remaining 65% remained in need of housing placement.

For those who are able to get into transitional housing, it proves to be a “game-changer,” Boyer said.

“Of those households, 75% go from transitional housing to permanent housing,” she said.

Stays in transitional housing can last from six months to two years, as the individuals living there are “fostered” by the Dove Center as they pursue ways of becoming more self-sufficient, be it through employment or education.

Councilman Daniel Cluff said he really appreciates the “beauty of what you are doing for the community,” and the council itself appeared to give a nod to funding the Dove Center’s project.

No other group came before the council requesting funds, and the public hearing was closed. In the near future another public hearing will be held as the city rolls out its choices for funding. Those entities and projects selected will then enter an application phase for block grant funding the city will sponsor.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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