Murkowski seeks emergency funding for AWAIC
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she is seeking emergency funding for the Abused Women's Aid in Crisis (AWAIC) Shelter in Anchorage because it is over capacity.
"The shelter currently has 52 beds and is serving nearly 90 women and children. The local fire marshall has informed the shelter it cannot exceed 90 people," said Murkowski in a letter to Catherine Pierce, the acting director of the Justice Department's Violence Against Women office.
On Monday, Murkowski said she requested $552,000 from the office to help the shelter cope with overcrowding.
Judy Cordell, the executive director of AWAIC, says so far they have not had to turn anyone away, but she fears they might have to if the funding does not come through.
"Not to be an alarmist, but should our contingency plans and the other safety nets tap out, then we would be in a position, like other communities in the Lower 48, and have to turn people away," said Cordell.
She says often victims come to the shelter in the process of being attacked, or their attackers follow them to the shelter.
Having enough staff to handle those types of situations is critical to victims' safety.
"That money that Sen. Murkowski is requesting is emergency funding for staffing -- we still run the night shift with two staff members, with 90 in the shelter," said Cordell. "We've had 211 911 and police responses to this agency in the last 15 months -- that's every other day on average."
Cordell says the shelter has been nearly over-capacity since January and attributes this year's increase partly to the economy.
"We know that couples experiencing economic stress are three times more likely to have those situations culminate in violence," she said.
Murkowski was traveling back to Washington Monday night and could not be reached for comment. Murkowski asked Pierce to make any money available out of her office's discretionary accounts.