Sitka Tribe of Alaska receives $2M grant to help domestic violence victims

Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi building (Photo by KCAW)
Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi building (Photo by KCAW)

The Sitka Tribe of Alaska has landed more than $2 million in federal grant money to aid victims of domestic violence.

The money is being awarded in three separate grants and will create five new positions to support women and children in Sitka.

The first grant puts $600,000 towards facility improvements at Sitkans Against Family Violence, or SAFV, which provides shelter for domestic violence victims.

The money comes the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Sitka Tribe works with the Sitkans Against Family Violence frequently, grant administrator Rachel Henderson said. This grant provides direct support for the shelter and the people it serves.

“Sixty-five percent of the people that use the SAFV shelter are Alaska Native. So we thought it was important in that regard to help tribal citizens,” Henderson said. “Also, most of the people that go there have low-to-moderate income, so it’s just helpful to the people in general that SAFV has an expanded or renovated facility.”

The shelter was built in the 1960’s. Sitkans Against Family Violence bought the building in 1995 and made some changes, but no large renovations to the floor plan.

With this money, the organization will expand the facility’s square footage and renovate the existing living space to accommodate more people. Currently, SAFV has space for 24 women and children.

“It’s going to add an area for animals so people who are coming to the shelter can bring their animals with them,” Henderson said. “It’s going to have expand eight bedrooms so they can have four family-size bedrooms. It’s going to improve the bathrooms so that one of the bathrooms is more handicapped accessible.”

Sitka Tribe also received two grants from the US. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women.

The first — for just over $899,000 — will be used to fund three positions for the next three years: an advocate for victims’ services at Sitkans Against Family Violence, a transitional housing program manager at Sitka Tribe of Alaska and a domestic violence investigator at the Sitka Police Department.

All three positions will share a common goal of aiding victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

There was a crucial need to work with Sitka Police and Sitkans Against Family Violence to address the needs of women in the community from multiple angles, said Melanie Boord, Sitka Tribe of Alaska social services director.

“There’s been a desperate need for transitional housing for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault,” Boord said. “There’s definitely a need for a more effective approach to investigating crimes of domestic violence. And also because of the diminished shelter funding, there’s also a need for enhanced victim’s services.”

The second DOJ grant, the Legal Assistance for Victims grant, allocates $599,000 over the next three years to fund two positions.

Naomi Palosaari of Sitka Tribe of Alaska said the money will first pay for a full-time attorney who will work out of Sitka Tribe.

“They will see clients, they will screen them for eligibility, they will represent them in court, they will draw up paperwork,” Palosaari said. “They will be providing all legal services in recovery from domestic violence or assistance with domestic violence issues.”

Sitka Tribe is now advertising for a family law attorney to fill that position. All other grant funded positions took effect on Oct. 1.

KCAW - Sitka

KCAW is our partner station in Sitka. KTOO collaborates with partners across the state to cover important news and to share stories with our audiences.

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