More than a year after the Crescent City Council revoked Community Development Block Grant money to Rural Human Service’s food bank and domestic violence shelter, the program director of the Harrington House says she expects to receive an increase in state funding this year.

Program Director Jolanda Ingram-Obie said she expects the Harrington House to receive about $600,000 in Domestic Violence Assistance Program dollars, about $120,000 more than the shelter received last year.

With this extra funding, she said, the shelter will be able to reinstate programs that were lost following the loss of its CDBG funding in 2017.

“We had to trim it back to where we only (had) one advocate on duty most of the time, it used to be we had two,” Ingram-Obie said. “We used to have a full-time prevention person that did outreach to teens at the high school, juvenile hall and Coastal Connections; we don’t have that anymore. We had a full-time data entry person. We cut that down to halftime. We’ve done a lot of juggling to keep our doors open 24 hours a day and answering that phone. But, thankfully, it’s all coming together.”

After former Rural Human Services executive director Scott Feller resigned in the wake of a settlement in a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2017, the city terminated a subcontract that would have awarded $158,000 each in CDBG funds to the nonprofit’s food bank and domestic violence shelter. The city council in August 2017 reallocated the CDBG dollars to the Community Food Council and used it to support the 3 Read ‘23 literacy program.

Ingram-Obie said news the Harrington House will receive $120,000 more in Domestic Violence Assistance Program dollars than in 2017 “means that we’re not in such dire financial straits as we were when the city took away our CDBG funding.” She said she made that statement at a Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce held Oct. 4.

The statewide Domestic Violence Assistance Program provides support to maintain or expand services to domestic violence victims and their children, according to a description of the program on the California Office of Emergency Services website. The program also provides support for the development and establishment of domestic violence services to unserved and underserved populations, including rural communities.

Though the Harrington House received backlash due to the sexual harassment lawsuit against RHS, several businesses in the community have stuck by the domestic violence shelter, Ingram-Obie said. They include Sutter Coast Hospital, Starbucks, Pizza Hut and Grocery Outlet. Ingram-Obie said the hospital donates to the domestic violence shelter five days a week while Pizza Hut and Starbucks donate one day a week.

“I want to really thank the community for pulling together when they realized the shelter was being hammered for something we didn’t do,” Ingram-Obie said. “That was kind of a backlash that we didn’t deserve. We’ve always abided by all the rules and the regulations we’re required to abide by.”

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