PitCo doubles its financial commitment to domestic violence shelter, urges other local gov to do the same
A leading cause of homelessness for women and children is domestic violence.
In a housing market as challenging as that of the Roaring Fork Valley, the nonprofit Response is working to open the upper valley’s only shelter. But the capital campaign hit a snag when construction cost estimates came back higher than expected, a problem that’s plaguing the region.
The overall project budget has risen to about $9.2 million, leaving Response with a funding gap of about $1.2 million, according to Response Executive Director Shannon Meyer.
Site constraints at the 6,770-square-foot building at 325 E. Cody Lane in Basalt drove up the budget, she said, like floodplain regulations requiring construction on stilts and building height restrictions, forcing mechanical work to be constructed inside the building and not in an attic or basement.
So Response turned back to governmental and private partners to raise the additional funds.
Pitkin County has far outpaced other local governments in financial contribution to the non-profit, having already pledged $250,000. And at the work session on Tuesday, the county commissioners committed to $250,000 more, urging others to do the same.
According to Meyer, capital campaign contributions are as follows:
- Pitkin County: $500,000 received (including the $250,000 pledged at Tuesday’s meeting)
- City of Aspen: $150,000 received
- Town of Snowmass Village: $30,000 received
Response is still waiting to hear back from other government bodies in the region, including:
- Eagle County: requesting $50,000
- Garfield County: requesting $30,000
- Town of Basalt: requesting $20,000
Commissioners Patti Clapper and Greg Poschman expressed concern at retaining sufficient funds for other local non-profits or a desire to challenge other government bodies to up their contribution.
“I’m just trying to be fair to all the other non-profits who I think are going to be knocking on our door. And we have a limited amount of funds — ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds, the general fund, healthy community funds,” said Clapper. “I think we need to be looking at these other communities who benefit from this program who have this need.”
Response serves survivors of domestic and sexual abuse that live and/or work in the upper Roaring Fork Valley. About 20% of their clients live in Garfield County but work in Eagle or Pitkin, according to Meyer.
Ultimately the commissioners decided to commit the extra $250,000 without a formal “challenge” of fund-matching to other entities.
“I don’t care what (Eagle County) or anyone else puts in. We should (contribute) based on our values, and I would hope Eagle will follow along and give more,” said Commissioner Steve Child. “I think we should give what we think we should give, and I hope the other entities feel remorse and guilt — all sorts of things — and dig deeper and give more to Response for this important housing.”
The additional $250,000 will come from the county’s ARPA funds, which the commissioners earmarked for housing and childcare needs when the funds were received about two years ago.
“This is an exceptional project. It stands on its own merits. It is not competing with anything else in the community that is going to come and ask us for resources,” said Commissioner Kelly McNicholas Kury. “So I don’t feel particularly pressured, that I’m going to have to approve something on whatever merits they bring to us because of supporting this exceptional project.”
Response won a $4 million grant from the state in August for the shelter.
With the additional funds from Pitkin County, Response will have secured about 90% of its budget and aims to break ground at the site in October or November, so long as final permits from the Town of Basalt go through.
“We hope that the community will still continue to be philanthropic even if the construction process has begun,” Meyer said.
The Halle Center for Hope and Healing will be the first domestic-abuse shelter in the upper valley and will provide a new base of operations for Response. The shelter will provide short-term housing for survivors and their children who are fleeing abuse in a trauma-informed setting.
The shelter will contain seven efficiency units — five for a survivor and their children, and two for single survivors. Each room will contain a kitchenette and bathroom, and there will also be a common kitchen, living area, and play yard for survivors to benefit from healing in community with others.
Aspen City Council approved a contract with Daniel Joseph (DJ) Watkins during Tuesday’s regular meeting to move forward with his intentions to operate his proposed “Aspen Collective,” which is currently occupied by Mia Valley’s Valley Fine Art.