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April 25, 2003


$2.5 million state housing grant paves way for 48-bed safe haven


SPRINGFIELD – Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey today broke ground at the future home of a 48-bed battered women’s shelter. The shelter will provide women and children who are survivors of domestic violence with support services and a secure place to recover and rebuild their lives.


“It is important that we work together and invest in developments which shelter and serve the most vulnerable residents of the Commonwealth,” said Healey. “Through courageous and innovative leadership, along with the unwavering dedication and support of the YWCA, this project will go a long way in serving the needs of women and children in the greater Springfield area who have experienced domestic violence in their lives.”


The project, sponsored by the YWCA of Western Massachusetts, received a $2.5 million grant from the Housing Innovation Fund (HIF), a bond-financed program administered by the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The HIF program is designed to produce alternate forms of housing for low-income individuals and families. At least 50 percent of the facility’s units will be set aside for low- and moderate-income residents.


Senate Minority Leader Brian Lees said, “This is a great day for the Commonwealth, the City of Springfield, the YWCA, and most importantly, for the many women and children who will walk through the doors of the new facility. These victims of domestic violence will have an opportunity to access shelter and services in a safe setting.”


Senator Linda Melconian expressed her appreciation for the Commonwealth’s support of the project, saying, “This is a project that is near and dear to my heart. I would like to thank the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Department of Housing and Community Development Director Jane Gumble for their support of this unique and exciting state-of-the-art battered women’s shelter. This project will finally give battered women and their children a safe, clean, secure and encouraging environment to help them get back on their feet.”


The YWCA acquired the seven-acre site in Springfield’s East Forest Park neighborhood and will build the three-story, 39,000 square-foot shelter, a new YWCA administrative headquarters with program space, parking and green space on a four-acre portion of the site. On the remaining land, the YWCA eventually plans to provide an expanded employment and training program as well as build a community center, childcare center and additional residential buildings to provide transitional rental apartments for women leaving abusive situations. The YWCA has offered housing options for women in Greater Springfield for over a century and has been the primary provider of services to battered women in the area since 1978.


“It has been 90 years since the YWCA of Western Massachusetts made an appeal for support,” said YWCA Executive Director Mary Johnson Reardon. “To finally ask and receive so generous a response makes me realize just how caring our community is. This is a proud day for all of us.”


Construction on the project is expected to begin in early May with completion slated for spring 2004.


“This project is a wonderful example of how effective our HIF program can be,” said DHCD Director Jane Wallis Gumble. “I am delighted that we can be a partner in this very important project which is committed to providing a healthy environment and support to victims of domestic violence.”



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