Anchorage’s only emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence is about to grow now that a $4.6 million expansion project has gotten underway.

Abused Women’s Aid In Crisis Executive Director Suzi Pearson said phase 1 will add 7,000 square feet of meeting and office space, including a second story to the shelter that was built in 1983.

AWAIC Ex. Dir. Suzi Pearson

Phase 2 will add 15 additional beds, bringing the total number of emergency beds at the shelter to 67. Pearson said the new beds are sorely needed.

“We’ve been anywhere from 34 to 65% at or over the capacity in the past decade. It’s just been incredible the demand for shelter,” Pearson said. “And in the past fiscal year we actually had to turn away over 800 individuals due to either lack of resources or they were ineligible for services.”

Pearson said the remodel will also allow them to try something new — dedicating three beds for male victims of domestic violence, who Pearson said make up about 5% of the adult population AWAIC sees.

“What we often have to do is house them at a hotel, and that often really is not the most effective way to support a victim who is experiencing trauma and is in crisis,” said Pearson.

Phase 1 of the project is expected to take about nine months. Phase 2, the remodel, could be an additional three or four months, according to Pearson.

Pearson said the project is funded with $1 million in grants from both the State of Alaska and the Rasmuson Foundation.

Other nonprofits, foundations and individuals have also donated significant sums.

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