Atascosa County's first family violence shelter gets reprieve

Shelter's funding extended through March 1 despite shutdown

By Jessie Degollado - Reporter

PLEASANTON, Texas - Federal funding for Atascosa County’s first family violence shelter has been extended through March 1, much to the relief of Rhonda Williamson, director of the Safer Path Family Violence Shelter in Pleasanton.

“It’s been a tense couple of weeks,” Williamson said.

She said more than a half-million dollars were raised through donations and private grants to buy the land and renovate the building, but without the pending federal reimbursements, drastic cuts in staffing and services would have been necessary on Monday.

Williamson said the $400,000 grant through the Victims of Crime Act accounts for 80 percent of Safer Path’s budget. She said that, as it is, the program has less than 10 people on staff, including herself.

Williamson said that, despite Atascosa County’s mostly rural population of only 48,000, Safer Path served 1,100 clients and its hotline took 4,000 calls.

Williamson said the need for the shelter is critical.

“Everything that happens in Bexar County happens here,” Williamson said.

She said whenever there is a fatal case of family violence in neighboring Bexar County, the shelter sees an increase in calls from victims.

After the smoke alarms are installed, the new shelter will be able to open after all and will house up to 49 victims and their families.

Williamson isn’t the only one who is relieved.

Andrea Baker said, “It means they can help more women out there like me.”

Also, like Williamson, Baker said she’s hoping the partial government shutdown ends soon before the shelter’s funding runs out March 1.

“Oh, yes, fingers crossed,” Baker said.

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