by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A Gwinnett County nonprofit that provides assistance to victims of sexual assault may soon be out on the streets.
For 26 years, the Gwinnett Sexual Assault and Children's Advocacy Center has provided distinct care for victims of sexual assault. It was the first center in the state to offer the specialized physical exams on site.
Executive Director Ann Burdges said their round-the-clock services go far beyond that.
“(We offer) advocacy for individuals and families, staff attorneys and legal advocacy,” Burdges told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh. "This type of violence has a very distinct impact on individuals and on families."
GSAC does it all out of a remodeled ranch home around the corner from downtown Duluth.
Burdges said they had a very generous agreement to lease the building from the city for just a $1 a year. But after more than two decades, the center was notified it has to relocate.
Burdges shared the letters the city sent with Channel 2 Action News.
The first letter in September stated because of ongoing maintenance issues the building was slated for demolition. They had to be out by July 1.
When GSAC asked for an extension, the city cited asbestos, mold, and termite infestations, calling it a matter of public health.
"The interruption of our services would definitely have an impact and a negative effect on how these cases proceed,” Burdges said.
Burdges said the extreme issues the city cited were news to her, especially considering they conducted a complete building renovation in the late ‘90s.
She does not believe anyone working in or seeking help here is at risk
Nonetheless, she is now focusing all efforts on finding a new home.
Channel 2 Action News reached out to the city of Duluth about their decision.
A spokesperson emailed Kavanaugh in part, saying;
“The City of Duluth values the services that GSAC provides and has allowed them to stay at this location as long as we possibly could."
The center is scrambling to find a place to relocate. They say the timeline has only increased the pressure and bottom line they don't want to interrupt any of the services they provide to victims.
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