A Loudon County domestic violence organization finds itself in
the middle of its own crisis.
The IVAS (Immediate Vital Assistance Services) Crisis
Intervention Center has not been able to move as far forward this year as its directors had
Plans have changed somewhat since IVAS announced in August 2010 it would to secure
loan/grant funding for a new safe haven shelter at an undisclosed rural location.
expected to begin last spring on renovation of a two-story house with a utility building and two-car
garage. The project, however, is not yet begun. Directors had expected property purchase, renovation
and modifications to cost about $913,500, with about $400,000 to be used in renovations and
modifications to provide space for clients.
Former executive director Sue Anderson retired
in August, and Alicia Fossett, who formerly served as client services manager, assumed her
Fossett said the property purchase was not completed until late July. Shortly
thereafter, plans were changed because the house was going to require expensive modifications to
make it accessible to people with disabilities.
Instead, IVAS now is planning to use the
two-story house for office spaces and storage, and a new one-level addition will be constructed as
the safe haven. It will have 12 bedrooms and house 30 to 40 women who will be able to remain in the
safe haven shelter for up to 30 days.
Dr. Jan Hahn, IVAS board president, said the changes
were made to keep costs down.
"Adding a one-level structure would be more efficient and
cheaper - it would cost a lot less than to renovate the two-story to meet codes," Hahn said. "It is
not like a private individual who wants to buy a house and live in it. The state has codes for
access for the disabled and you have to have sprinklers and make it fire proof.
"We sat down
and looked at the cost for renovations versus using the building as office and an educational site,"
she said. "It was several thousands cheaper to build."
The USDA loan obtained by IVAS, about
$1 million, enabled the board to purchase the property and the lenders approved the change in plans,
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the problem of domestic violence
is strong as ever, Fossett said.
"Funding has taken a nose dive and need is on the rise. We
are getting calls from centers all over the area, asking for bed space. We need a bigger safe
haven," she said. "We are full to the max. Our transitional housing is full and we have a waiting
Hahn added, "The last couple of years have been very difficult for
Hahn has raised funds by undertaking two 30-mile walks, for which per-mile
donations were raised. Other fundraisers are in the works.
The most recent walk was last
Sunday. It began at Highway 72 near Tellico Village, proceeded to Lenoir City and ended at Maryville
"Things are going smoothly," Fossett said. "We hope to be in our new facility by the
original target date, the end of July."
Architects have not completed the new building plan,
Fossett said. It has not yet been bid out, and the cost is not yet