Government shutdown affecting local domestic violence shelters

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- SIxteen days after the government shut down, area organizations wonder if they'll have to do the same.

"The work that we do is life-saving work," MaryAnne Metheny of Hope House said. "People die if we`re not here to help them."

Hope House is one of the largest domestic violence shelters in the Kansas City Metro. It's shelters are still open. But the outreach programs its staff does like helping battered women and abused children navigate through the court system are in the cross hairs.

Usually, hotlines are the way most of us know about domestic violence. Confidential shelters are another.

But there's another side to it, involving computers and courthouses.

"Shelter is just a piece of what we do. In our outreach program, we provide court services," Metheny explained. "We’re in 13 courts helping people navigate through the court process, helping people get what they need, so they can get a protection order or help them if they are the witness or the victim in a case that’s going in front of the judge."

Metheny said their court advocates are there to support them, to help them navigate through that process.

"Those court advocates need to get paid for doing their job."

But Hope House depends on government funding to pay those court advocates. It has a $6 Million a year operating budget; roughly half of that comes from government funding.

"We will start to see the money not coming in at the end of the month," Metheny said.

If the government is shut down, the funding for Hope House and that staff isn't there.

The other large metro shelter is the Rose Brooks Center. It has a $6.5 Million yearly budget, and 60-70 percent of its funding is government grants.

"That federal funding is vital to what we do here at the Rose Brooks Center, and it's needed for sure," Director of Marketing Scott Mason said.

And the first to be impacted: those programs in the courts.

"I think it’s really critical for people to understand that this is dire," Metheny Director of Marketing Scott Mason said. "If they don’t figure this out, it could have ramifications across the country for people."

Both Hope House and Rose Brooks are big enough, and have enough funding, to keep their programs afloat through the month. "If this goes on for any great length of time," said Mason, "we will be feeling that impact more severely as well."

Shelters at Hope House and Rose Brooks are still open, since they receive a different kind of funding. But both hope the shutdown ends soon. Otherwise, they say they'll have to get creative with their solutions to the shutdown.

If you need help, call the Metro Domestic Violence Hotline: 816-HOT-LINE.

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