By Deb Murphy
A year ago, Wild Iris’ director of programs Susi Bains’ “perfect world” was a campus for those transitioning out of an abusive relationship. The facility would provide housing and services to get the victims on their way to self-sufficiency.
Next month, a version of that facility will have its official opening.
Wild Iris’ Executive Director Dr. Trina Tobey made the announcement at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting and Monday’s Bishop City Council session as part of the formal declaration of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The 10-unit transitional housing facility was once a hotel north of Bishop. Louis and Anne McCutcheon bought the building for the specific purpose of renting it to Wild Iris to give abuse survivors a place to get back on their feet once the immediate crisis is past and they are no longer at risk. The rent is more than reasonable, Tobey said.
Four of the units are being converted into studios; the other six, one-bedroom apartments. The cost is $8,000 per unit.
The funding for refurbishing and furnishing the first four units comes from California’s Office of Emergency Services, Tobey explained. The OES won’t fund purchases, but they will fund 80-percent.
Why is Wild Iris in the housing business? Tobey answered that at the City Council meeting: domestic abuse is the third cause of homelessness. With few job or independent living skills, many victims have limited options on their road to survival. Often the best option is couch-surfing or living out of a car.
The organization’s transitional housing has been individual rentals scattered throughout the valley. “Survivors felt isolated,” Tobey said. “There was no immediate support system.”
The new facility includes an attached house where residents can get a crash course in both life and job skills, participate in healing groups and get the professional support they need from on-site staff, according to Tobey.
The remaining six units will be the beneficiaries of fund-raising efforts. The two Bishop Rotaries have already promised the money for one of the remaining units. That leaves only five to go.