PNS Daily Newscast - July 19, 2019 

Chants of a different sort greet U.S. Rep. Omar upon her return home to Minnesota. Also on our Friday rundown: A new report says gunshot survivors need more outreach, support. Plus, sharing climate-change perspectives in Charlotte.

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AZ Abuse Shelter Challenged by State Cuts

September 10, 2010

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Cuts in state funding have prompted the nation's largest domestic violence shelter to reduce capacity and put off expansion plans. But the Phoenix-based Sojourner Center is still able to serve 95 percent of women and children seeking help.

Executive director Connie Phillips says abused women sometimes mistakenly assume the state's financial difficulties mean there's nowhere for them to go.

"So many of the services have been cut that women have gotten the message that there's not support available to them. It really discourages women from leaving and colludes with the batterer, with the abuser, who is telling her 'You're not going to make it on your own.'"

Phillips says other shelters are available to handle any overflow from Sojourner Center, so that everyone seeking help will get it. Sojourner Center accepts women and their children from all over Arizona, and even from other states.

Facing a funding shortfall of just under $1 million this year, Sojourner Center has reduced the number of its emergency shelter beds from 280 to 224, and put off plans to add new beds. Phillips says there's still a strong case to be made for funding shelters with tax dollars when the economy recovers.

"The amount of time that the police and courts spend on domestic violence cases, the amount of danger there is in responding to a domestic violence case - this is a public issue: public safety and public health."

Thanks to a capital fundraising campaign that was completed before the state's economy took a nosedive, Sojourner Center will be opening 29 rent-subsidized transitional apartments next month. Phillips says the units will help families get back on their feet after seeking emergency shelter.

"It allows women who have completed the shelter program, or any shelter program in the community, to be able to come and live in a gated community, a supportive environment with other women and their children, and continue to receive supportive services for up to two years."

The new campus will also include a community clubhouse, education center and resource center.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ