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Women & Children First Gets $12M in Grants for New Shelter

2 min read

Nonprofit domestic violence shelter Women & Children First of Little Rock announced it has received more than $12 million in grants to build a new facility on the city’s southwest side.

The organization said it received $7 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a grant funded by the American Rescue Plan and distributed by the Arkansas Development Finance Authority. Combined with other grants, the money brings total HUD support for the project to $8.1 million.

The nonprofit also received a $4 million challenge grant from the Windgate Foundation.

“Our Foundation recognizes the urgent needs that women face when living with domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking,” Patricia Forgy, executive director of Windgate, said in a statement. “We’re gratified that we can help WCF make a difference in these women’s lives.”

Women & Children First plans to expand its bed count from 54 to 132 with the new 41,345-SF shelter. The 3.79 acre-site of of the project is located near an Arkansas Children’s Hospital, a state Department of Health clinic and a police substation. It will include a kennel for pets and an expansive playground for children.

The city has leased the property on Dailey Drive to WCF for $1 a year for 99 years. 

Plans call for an adjacent facility that brings together more than a dozen separate agencies to provide various resources for domestic violence victims and their children. The multi-agency New Forest of Hope Family Peace Center is designed to streamline the process of helping victims.

“Because the Family Peace Center will be located next to the new shelter, no transportation will be required for victims to access these agencies’ resources, not only for domestic violence but also sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking — issues we’ve always dealt with,” Angela McGraw, WCF Executive Director, said in a statement.

Planning for the new facilities began in 2015. McGraw said WCF has raised nearly $15 million for the project, but the total estimated cost hasn’t been determined yet.

“This [HUD] grant had several stipulations that have to be met so we’ve been working with our architect to get the overall cost and goal of this project,” she said. “We also know that construction costs are so unpredictable right now that we need to prepare for any unforeseen costs. Any funds beyond the construction phase will spill over into the Women & Children First maintenance and operations during its first critical months of serving the state of Arkansas.”

The nonprofit aims to break ground on the project in the first quarter of 2024. Construction is expected to last 12-18 months.

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