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Nevada County shelter for abused women closing: Placer’s vows to stay open

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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It’s survival time for the Placer County organization that provides shelter for victims of domestic violence. PEACE for Families operates a 40-bed facility in the Auburn area that opened two years ago as a haven for families trying to escape violence in the home. Executive Director Michelle Coleman said Wednesday it frightens her to learn that Nevada County’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition decided this week to close its 12-bed facility in July, with no plans to open it again. Coleman said that with the prospect of even more reductions in funding from state coffers, PEACE for Families (PEACE is an acronym for Placer Extends A Caring Environment for Families) is making it a priority to keep the shelter open. The new shelter opened in December 2008, replacing one in North Auburn with 25 beds. The facility served 200 women and children last year. Debbie – a Yuba County mother of four who has been sheltered by PEACE for Families – said the organization provided her with a chance to leave an alcoholic husband who was both verbally and physically abusive. “It’s horrifying that they’re having to close down shelters,” Debbie said. “They really need to be there for us. Without a shelter, we don’t have other options.” Debbie’s identify is not being disclosed because of safety concerns and the location of the shelters is not being identified for the same reasons. The Nevada County group had opened its shelter in 2000, moving from a four-bedroom house to its current location in 2006. Coalition Executive Director Niko Johnson said Wednesday that shutting the doors was a difficult decision forced by state funding cuts. The coalition, started in 1978, will continue to offer a 24-hour crisis line and assistance at its office. Safe houses will also be available when necessary, Johnson said. Coleman said the Placer County organization was hard-hit last year when the governor’s budget dropped $220,000 in funding it was anticipating. Some of that money was later restored but PEACE for Families is also facing leaner financial times, she said. Coleman said there are no plans to close the shelter or lay off employees. “It’s important for people in Placer County to know we’re still going to be there but we need their help,” Coleman said. “It’s a life or death situation. If people have nowhere to go, they will be forced to stay in a dangerous situation.”