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Shifting Resources & Saving Lives: Funding Domestic and Sexual Violence Services in Chicago

We ask for your support in calling for the reallocation of $35 million to a line item in the budget for critical gender-based violence services in the City of Chicago. This amount represents 7 days of the 365 day police budget and would bring Chicago in line with other large cities in funding for gender based violence prevention and response services.

The Network is in support of community asks for funds to be re-invested in communities through the reopening of closed schools, the reopening of closed mental health centers, additional housing resources for those facing homelessness, funding for crisis centers, job programs, and treatment and recovery centers. As a representative of the sexual and domestic violence advocacy community, the Network primarily seeks funding to be re-invested into the following services: Sexual Violence Response Programs, Community Based Advocacy Work, Prevention Programs for Sexual and Domestic Violence, Funding for Services for those Who Cause Harm, 24-Hour Non-Shelter Domestic Violence Crisis Responders, Long-term Housing Solutions For Survivors, Counseling, Financial Assistance, and Other Services. 

The Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS) oversees, among other programs, programs for victims and survivors of domestic violence, including the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline, housing, counseling, and legal advocacy services. Domestic violence funding through DFSS is the smallest funding portion even after administrative funds, amounting to $7,442,566. 

The CPD budget (which is $1,762,078,349) is 236x the funding the City devotes to domestic violence services through DFSS. The budget for the Chicago Police Department (CPD) is 40% of Chicago's operating budget, which averages to approximately $4 million spent each day on policing. The City is also planning a new $95 million police academy in the west side of Chicago, currently opposed by community organizations asking community funding and investment instead. In all, the budget for policing continues to grow each year. Chicago's spending on policing per capita is higher than Los Angeles, which has a population of one million more residents, and more than double that of Miami-Dade County in Florida, which has a similar population. 

The Chicago domestic violence and sexual violence community are far from the only ones making this request. Throughout the nation, many cities are re-evaluating and reenvisioning their approach to public safety. Minneapolis, New York, and Los Angeles have all chosen to make some budgetary cuts to their police departments in order to re-invest in their communities. Throughout the community, people continue to take to the streets to call for action. They are joined by at least six Chicago Aldermen who have called for a decrease in the CPD budget. 

Police officers have long been called to do work outside of their training, responding as social workers, mental health care professionals, and community specialists. Reallocating funds means allowing individuals with the proper training to respond to these needs in the community and allowing police officers to focus on the tasks they are trained for. By allocating $35 million in additional funds to gender-based violence prevention and response, the City will improve the health and safety of its residents, enable the police department to respond strategically and effectively to criminal activity, and equip providers to meet the ever increasing need for services in this area. We thank you for your support.

To access the complete "Shifting Resources & Saving Lives: Funding Domestic and Sexual Violence Services in Chicago" report presented to the Mayor's office in July 2020 follow this link: https://bit.ly/SafetyBeLike