News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 28, 2013

Loss of federal funds cutting into CODA program

Transitional housing units on Hulman St. to close, but other shelter and abuse services to continue

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Victims of domestic violence in the Wabash Valley will be losing a service that has helped many women and children get back on their feet after they have escaped an abusive homelife.

The Council On Domestic Abuse will close its 10-unit transitional housing program on Hulman Street as of Oct. 31 because of an $87,000 cut in federal funding by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

CODA’s emergency shelter and other support programs will remain available with services to victims of domestic violence.

CODA executive director Gwen Tucker told the Tribune-Star on Wednesday about the decision made by the CODA governing board on Monday. The residents of the transitional housing units were notified Tuesday, Tucker said, and work has begun on finding permanent, suitable and safe living arrangements for the 10 families now housed.

“CODA is not going away,” Tucker emphasized. “We will focus on the core values of CODA. Those are the emergency shelter program, as well as outreach in the communities of Clay, Sullivan, Vermillion, Parke and Vigo counties, our courthouse office, educational programs and children’s programs.”

In 2012, CODA sheltered 130 adults and 126 children, totalling 3,696 nights that people stayed at the shelter. CODA also served 12 families — 12 adults and 22 children — at its transitional housing location on Hulman Street.

The CODA office in the Vigo County courthouse served 1,197 victims in 2012, while assisting with 253 protective orders from the courts and 177 safety plans.

The board has been analyzing the best strategy for CODA since finding out in January about the loss of more than $87,000 from HUD, Tucker said. The options were pushing to find more funding, or to go back to the original mission of the shelter and support programs. The board did not find it feasible to try to make up almost $90,000 in lost funding, she said.

It has been a struggle for the past five years to operate the transitional housing program as other federal funding has dwindled, Tucker said.

The lost funds have covered round-the-clock staffing at the administration office, salaries of case managers, utilities and upkeep of the buildings. CODA has its main office at the 1400 Hulman St. location, and that administrative building will be forfeited along with the transitional units.

“We’ve had so many funding cuts that it’s been a strain to keep the transitional program,” she said. Since 1998, the transitional program has served women and children who have been residents of the emergency shelter, but want to make a fresh start free of abuse. The families go through counseling and programs for two years before moving on to permanent housing.

Tucker said that HUD has decided to end all funding for transitional housing — and focus on permanent housing. Finding permanent housing can be a struggle when many victims escape abuse with only the clothes on their backs and no employment income.

“Sometimes, these people are starting over from nothing,” Tucker said of the abuse victims.

She emphasized that CODA is not the only agency in the state to lose its federal funding for transitional housing.

The CODA leadership has been talking to other organizations with a similar mission in the community in hopes of finding a group that can take over the Hulman Street facility and continue to use it to help victims of domestic violence.

“We’re really hoping another agency in the Wabash Valley will come in and take it over and use it for a similar purpose,” Tucker said.