A $467,000 grant from the Federal Housing Loan Bank of Pittsburgh will help the Wheeling YWCA provide local women who have just been released from prison with a place to live.
The YWCA, which was one of 42 recipients - including eight in West Virginia - of a total of $13.5 million in grant funding, will use the money to create eight apartment units on the third floor of the organization's building at the corner of 11th and Chapline streets. Those units will serve as transitional housing for women for up to 18 months following their release.
Rent will be based on a percentage of each tenant's income, said Lori Jones, Wheeling YWCA executive director. She hopes to have the project finished in about a year.
Photo by Ian Hicks
Wheeling YWCA Executive Director Lori Jones reviews blueprints for new transitional apartments on the third floor of the organization’s downtown building. The units will house women who have been incarcerated for up to 18 months upon their release.
According to Jones, more than 90 percent of women who have been incarcerated report being victims of domestic violence, while more than 95 percent suffer from alcohol or drug addiction. The transitional apartments, she said, will also provide tenants easier access to counseling offered through the YWCA and treatment through the Miracles Happen substance abuse program.
"There is nowhere for women in recovery to seek assistance in the local area, and that's a shame," Jones said. "It's sadly needed."
Tenants will live under a measure of supervision and renting one of the apartments will come with a number of conditions, Jones said, including random drug testing and obtaining employment within two weeks of moving there. New tenants may not leave the building for the first 72 hours and will be transported to and from work by YWCA staff for the first several weeks.
After six successful months in the program, women will be able to bring children to live with them
"We will teach them the life skills needed to make healthy choices. ... If we let them go back into the same situations they were in before they went to prison, we're going to get the same results," Jones said.
The planned apartments will include seven single-bedroom units and one handicapped-accessible unit with its own separate living room and bathroom areas. Tenants will have access to shared kitchen and bathroom facilities.