County OKs long-term land lease for violence shelter

October 29, 2013
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Hamilton County Commissioners have cleared the way for an Anderson-based domestic violence shelter to build a satellite facility on county-owned land in Noblesville, assuming it can raise enough money to support the program.

The 3.8-acre site along Cumberland Road, south of the county jail complex, was at the top of an organizing committee’s wish list for the shelter.

Commissioners voted 2-1 Monday to make the property available to Alternatives Inc. through a long-term, low-rent lease. As IBJ reported this month, a task force has been working with the not-for-profit to expand its services to fast-growing Hamilton County.

More than 100 county residents sought emergency housing at the Anderson shelter last year.

Board President Steve Dillinger cast the lone “no” vote, saying it doesn’t think it’s smart for the county to hand over property the Sheriff’s Department might need in the future. He also cited the difficult of explaining to other groups why they weren’t offered the land.

Commissioner Christine Altman is part of a United Way of Central Indiana-led coalition that has been exploring ways to offer emergency housing—identified in a 2010 community assessment as the No. 1 unmet need in the suburban county.

Alternatives’ 48-bed shelter in Anderson serves residents of several counties, but distance is a factor for families trying to retain a sense of normalcy in their lives.

Preliminary plans call for raising about $5 million to build and equip a 30-bed facility serving women and children seeking refuge from abuse. Annual operating expenses are expected to total about $500,000.

The county-owned property is well located given its proximity to the courthouse, schools and law enforcement, Altman and other advocates have said.

Even with a site identified, Alternatives Executive Director Mary Jo Lee said construction planning and fundraising could take years.

In addition to cash gifts, she said campaign leaders will be seeking in-kind donations and sponsorship deals running the gamut from a family “adopting” a roomful of furniture to a corporation putting its name on the facility.



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