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Cuts would leave hundreds of battered women without safe shelter

Mecklenburg County may not be able to shelter as many victims of domestic violence next year. County Manager Harry Jones has proposed cutting a program that keeps women and children safe in hotel rooms. It's part of $38 million in cuts he's proposed to help plug the county's budget gap. Mecklenburg County's only battered women's shelter can house up to 29 women and children fleeing domestic violence. But it's almost always full and when that happens United Family Services who operates the shelter places victims in hotel rooms through a $98,000 program funded solely by the county. Amanda Wilson, with United Family Services, says if the program is eliminated, the shelter would have to turn away hundreds of women and children. "We would do our best to try to leverage some of our community partnerships including local faith-based organizations, the Salvation Army shelter. But in all reality these women would be facing either homelessness or staying in their abusive situations," says Wilson. Wilson estimates the program has housed nearly 700 women and children over the past year. At this point, the cuts are still only preliminary proposals. County Manager Harry Jones says he'll release his final budget recommendations next month. County commissioners are scheduled to approve a budget in June.