Pa. women’s shelter shuns 13 for attacks, damage

April 3, 2013

TARENTUM (AP) – A Southwestern Pennsylvania shelter for battered women has evicted seven women and six children because its director said some residents threatened and battered staff members and caused roughly $10,000 damage.

The Alle-Kiski Hope Center lists an address and phone number in Tarentum, about 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, though its emergency shelter location is secret to protect its residents.

But over the weekend, Executive Director Michelle Bond said the staffers were battered and needed shelter.

“I really think that sometimes when you have community-living situations, there are personalities that when put together are volatile,” Bond told the Valley News Dispatch. “This was just the perfect storm of personalities.”

The unrest began Friday when a resident spit on a staff member. When the shelter tried to make arrangements to send that woman elsewhere, but could not immediately do so, “it sent a message that whatever they did, they could not be removed from the shelter.”

As a result, things escalated over the weekend with minor vandalism and threats to staff members, Bond said.

By Tuesday night, a mandatory meeting, which included the residents, was called by staff during which two residents attacked two staff members. That prompted the shelter to evict all of the residents. That didn’t sit well with one woman, Nichole Clelland, who told KDKA-TV, “There are women and children and babies. How can you just throw people out? People are in danger, people are cold. We have nowhere to go.”

“You want to provide the greatest good to the greatest number. Sometimes that means you have to make tough decisions,” Bond said.

Tarentum police were contacted to oversee the evictions, which took about three hours Tuesday night. About $10,000 damage was done by the departing residents, including a shower curtain that caught on fire from a lit cigarette.

The shelter has rules against drugs, weapons and violence and, authorities said, each woman evicted had a problem with at least one of those issues.

No charges were being pressed and the assaulted staff members didn’t require medical treatment, Bond said.

The shelter remained open and planned to begin admitting new residents later Wednesday.

The shelter’s 24-hour emergency hotline remained in operation. The Hope Center also offers legal help, abuse prevention education, crisis intervention, counseling and transitional housing beyond the emergency shelter, where women can stay for up to 30 days.



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