Grant County is one step closer to having new offices and a shelter for its domestic violence program, which will be called Meredith House.

The Grant County Court approved submitting a $980,000 Community Development Block Grant application on behalf of the Heart of Grant County for construction of the new facility following a public hearing during its Nov. 7 meeting.

Commissioner Jim Hamsher noted how sad it is that such a facility was needed, but that is the reality. Grant County Judge Scott Myers agreed.

Sally Bartlett, the county’s economic development coordinator, said the state had approved a pre-application for the grant. With a Dec. 31 application deadline, Bartlett said the grant might be awarded in the spring. If successful, the project could be put out to bid, and construction could start next summer, she said.

Heart of Grant County was established in 2008. The nonprofit provides domestic violence and sexual assault protection services for county residents and provides a 24-hour hotline, temporary safe housing, emergency transportation and support groups

The nonprofit has relocated its offices several times and needs a better location, Bartlett said. Shelter demand has doubled in recent years, with shelter space maxed out several times. The current facility also lacks needed security and safety provisions, she said.

In fiscal year 2017-2018, Bartlett said, Heart of Grant County was contacted by 131 people in crisis, received 236 hotline calls, provided 310 shelter nights at their small apartment, provided 19 motel rooms, handled 17 new clients and 134 ongoing clients, provided safety planning for 212 clients and accompanied 92 clients for medical reasons.

According to 2016 numbers from the Grant County District Attorney’s Office, victim assistance staff handled 108 victims of domestic abuse, including 73 cases of domestic and family violence, 12 child abuse cases, 11 child sexual abuse cases, five stalking cases, three violation of protective orders and two adult sexual assault cases.

Bartlett said Heart of Grant County started its site search on county-owned land, but nothing suitable was available. The nonprofit then found land and purchased it. The site was not chosen on a whim, she noted.

The new facility is estimated to cost $1.5 million, but the total could be reduced through in-kind services provided by locals, Bartlett said. The estimated total cost includes architecture and engineering but not furniture and equipment, she said.

The hope is to provide three bedrooms, two bathrooms and offices for the nonprofit, Bartlett said. The facility would accommodate women, men and children. Acceptance of clients from outside the county would be determined on a case-by-case basis, Executive Director Shelly Whale-Murphy said.

The state, which will administer the federal grant, would own the building for five years and lease it to the Heart of Grant County at a nominal amount, Bartlett said. Ownership would be transferred to the Heart of Grant County after that.

The Heart of Grant County is seeking donations to complete the $15,000 match required for the CDBG grant before the Dec. 31 deadline. Additional contributions will be needed for furnishings not covered by the CDBG grant.

Contributions may be made at the Bank of Eastern Oregon and Old West Federal Credit Union or to the Heart of Grant County, which is a community-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations are tax deductible. For more information, call the Heart of Grant County at 541-575-4335.

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