TAKING ACTION: Hope Place answers concerns over shelter conditions

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Hope Place provides safety, meals and shelter, among many other necessities, to domestic violence victims in our area. Recently, WHNT News 19 received some calls into our newsroom from people concerned over conditions at the shelter.

"We're trying to prevent people from dying and being killed," Cindi Stewart, Associate Director of Crisis Services of North Alabama, said.

But, Hope Place's staff said they are doing the best they can with the grant money they receive.

"This could be the difference between life and death," an unnamed victim said of the importance of Hope Place.

This woman said she found relief when she hit rock bottom.

"Being raw from what happened, and just kind of bewildered, I talked to the person that woke me up that morning and was explaining how the facility worked," the victim recalled.

There are two emergency, confidential shelters in North Alabama - one in Morgan County, one in Madison county - which serve roughly 300 people annually.

"This is not just a homeless shelter, but this is a refuge for individuals that are fleeing domestic violence and fleeing for their lives," Stewart said. "We don't say no to anybody, we don't turn them away."

Hope Place staff serves a transient community. They said that does occasionally welcome unwanted problems, like bedbugs and mildew.

"We've been lucky that ours has been very small," Stewart said. "We've been able to contain it, and take care of it, working with our pest control. We have to be careful because we live in the South with mold and mildew."

Victims are fearless in their journey to Hope Place and the staff is fearless in their assistance.

"The first focus that we have to stay on is safety," Tanya Reagan, Supervisor and case manager at Hope Place, said.

Sadly, funding only goes so far, especially when they offer beds with protective covers, a kitchen, food, washer and dryers, case management and more.

"People can sit back and be judgmental and say, well it needs this and it needs that," Reagan said. "Yes, that's true. We can only do what we can do with the funds that we have."

Hope Place is a haven that fosters hope for the long haul.

"You have the counseling that you need and the support that you need for your children," the victim said. "It creates a productive citizen again."

Crisis Services of North Alabama officials said it costs more than $250,000 a year to operate the Madison County Hope Place. They depend on the generous donations of the community, along with grant money, to keep serving those who need it.

If you would like to help Hope Place, visit www.csna.org.