In May, the Emmonak Women’s Shelter – one of only two shelters in western Alaska and the only shelter located in a native village – was on the verge of closing its doors. Plagued by budget shortfalls, its funding for the year was nearly gone before the summer even began. On July 2, After working with Senator Lisa Murkowski, the Bureau of Indian Affairs provided the shelter with $50,000 in emergency funding.
“We just received word from our Senator Murkowksi that $50,000 is going to be sent to the tribe and the tribe is going to write a check for that amount to the Emmonak Women’s Shelter,” said Lynn Hootch.
Hootch is the former shelter director who now works with the Yupik Women’s Coalition in Emmonak. Still involved with the shelter, Hootch says its monthly costs range from $10,000 to $13,000. That includes keeping advocates on the phone 24 hours a day, and housing women and children for weeks at a time. After fearing closure just months ago, Hootch says the $50,000 will now keep the shelter open and staffed for the rest of the summer.
“The Emmonak tribe will transfer the money to continue to keep our shelter open until hopefully, we receive the grant that we applied for, in September,” Hootch said.
That transfer is from the BIA Office of Indian Services, which will be making the emergency funds available to the Village of Emmonak. As a federally recognized tribe, OIS allocated the money under its Tribal Priority Allocation authority. The tribe will then send the funds on to the shelter.
This isn’t the only new funding for the shelter. After the New York Times ran an article on the shelter’s seemingly imminent closure in May, word spread on Facebook, and pledges of support were followed by donations of money and in-demand items like diapers, clothes, and non-perishable food. Hootch says the Department of Public Safety even donated an ATV. In all, the shelter collected close to $30,000 in donation.
“We received almost close to $10,000 in checks and we found out this morning that we have close to $20,000 from PayPal.”
Serving about 500 women and children a year, the Emmonak Women’s Shelter has been open for 34 years. It operates under a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women.