By Lindy Thackston
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Aug. 5, 2014)-- The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners has voted to cut funding to help victims of domestic violence by $10,000, and the vote came one day after a Hamilton County teacher was shot and killed by her ex-husband in a murder-suicide.
"This is definitely a problem in Carmel, in Westfield, in Noblesville, in Fishers, and in northern Hamilton County," said Susan Ferguson, executive director of Prevail, a place in Noblesville that helps victims of crime and abuse.
Ferguson says it's currently the only place people can go for help in the county, but they're not a shelter.
Hamilton County victims in need of a shelter are sent to the Julian Center in Indianapolis or Alternatives in Anderson.
"Once you get to a point of needing to go to a shelter, then oftentimes you don’t have other resources either, so you might not have family and friends who can give you a ride or you might not have your own car. If they have a job in Noblesville, then getting from Anderson to Noblesville on a daily basis to attend work is difficult."
And although the school district must provide transportation from Anderson, it's also difficult to be so far when children are in school.
Ferguson says because Alternatives helps the county, the county gives them money. However, the commissioners decided to cut $10,000 from the $50,000 they get for next year, because there are no hard plans to get a shelter up and going.
"Because this has been such a complicated process, it’s taking a lot longer than any of us had hoped, so I think the commissioners were saying that we're hoping to move ahead with a shelter."
Ferguson is working with a group of county leaders to make it happen, but finding a site and funding is tough.
The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners did not return our calls Tuesday.
The Domestic Violence Network's latest statistics show Hamilton County has seen a 34% jump in domestic violence crisis calls and ranks fourth in the state.
Ferguson says they refer people to a shelter all the time, but fear many don't go.
"Because we have people in need, we need a shelter," she said, "We don’t want anybody to choose to stay home in a dangerous situation because they can’t get to a shelter."
"We believe that if there was a shelter in Hamilton County, we would probably be serving a lot more people. Because it’s in Anderson, I’m sure there are some people who choose not to go to a shelter because of the distance."
Ferguson and others are so grateful for the out-of-county help, but say a nearby shelter would be a great benefit to victims in the county.
If you are in Hamilton County and need help, Prevail is there for you and has a 24-hour hotline. The 24-hour crisis line is 317-776-3472 and the general phone number is 317-773-6942.