Taylor County domestic violence shelter forced to be demolished due to structural damage
TAYLOR COUNTY, Fla. (WCTV) - A Taylor County domestic violence shelter will soon be demolished because of structural damage, according to Refuge House.
Executive Director Emily Mitchem said they were originally planning to replace the flooring when engineers discovered the foundation had structural issues; those challenges are causing the building to sink and it will no longer be habitable. Mitchem said they are now working to knock down the current shelter and purchase a new building as quickly as possible.
“The level of violence, the level of intimidation and coercion that is going on in the domestic violence cases we’re seeing at Refuge House, especially in our rural communities, is staggering,” said Mitchem.
The shelter has been operating in Taylor County since 2000. Since then, Mitchem said they’ve been able to help nearly 10,000 women and children in the county and surrounding communities recover from violent situations. The shelter has counseling services and case managers, free of charge.
Mitchem said services like Refuge House are critical in rural communities because there are fewer resources for victims. “There may be less employment opportunities - gainful employment opportunities - for women, in particular,” said Mitchem. “It’s difficult to find the ability to find an income that will sustain rent, childcare, food, gas, insurance, and all of those things.”
Transportation is also a challenge for victims looking to escape violence in rural communities, according to Mitchem.
The current shelter will be demolished within the coming months, but the organization is already looking to purchase a new building that can be converted into a shelter. To help raise the money needed, Refuge House will be having a fundraiser on Feb. 16 at the Goodwood Museum in Tallahassee.
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