May 28, 2015

Senator Visits Local YWCA | The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - The opening of a dozen transitional apartment units for domestic violence victims and women recently released from prison is about two weeks away, according to Wheeling YWCA Executive Director Lori Jones.

The project was funded in part by a $467,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh last year, which chose the Wheeling YWCA as its venue on Tuesday to announce almost $800,000 in grant awards for three projects this year in Morgantown and Fairmont. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., joined bank officials for the announcement.

The grant was for seven units, but Jones said through additional donations the YWCA has refurbished 12 apartments on the upper floors of its headquarters at the corner of 11th and Chapline streets, which tenants will pay rent based on a percentage of their income. A grand opening is planned June 11.

"They will be able to live here for up to two years as they work on rebuilding themselves," Jones said.

The Federal Home Loan Bank program was established in 1932 in the midst of the Great Depression. It operates under government oversight, but the system's 12 regional banks are privately owned by member financial institutions and, although they enjoy exemption from corporate taxes, do not receive direct government funding.

The FHLB's Affordable Housing Program has awarded about $15 million in grants in West Virginia since 1990, creating almost 1,600 new housing units.

Awards announced Tuesday were $250,000 for Monongalia County Habitat for Humanity; $392,111 for Novus House, which plans to provide supporting housing for those at risk of becoming homeless in the Morgantown area and $146,917 for the Fairmont Housing Authority.

Manchin spoke of his youth in Farmington, W.Va., and memories of his grandmother - known affectionately as "Mama Kay" - who always was willing to help her neighbors in need.

"She made us cognizant at a very young age that there are people without," he said.

Manchin said projects like Habitat for Humanity, which require recipients to participate in the construction of their home and repay the organization as they are able, go beyond simply providing shelter by instilling a sense of ownership.

"I think the thing we do wrong in this country is we don't have ownership. ... I worry about this with our children. They're not taking ownership of their country," Manchin said.

Also on hand Tuesday was Danielle Walker, who along with her two teenage sons will receive one of five houses Monongalia County Habitat for Humanity will build through the grant. She said participating in the cons has given her and her family a new sense of self-worth.

"This is an opportunity, a second chance my children needed and deserved," Walker said.

By:  Ian Hicks
Source: Transitional apartments to open next month