On December 7, 2010, the DC Council will vote on a Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Gap-Closing Budget and begin to plan for an even greater funding gap in 2012.
The lives of thousands of victims and survivors of crimes including domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and neglect, human trafficking, and homicide hang in the balance. Without affirmative action and dedicated local funding, by 2012, the District's fragile safety net for victims of crime and their families will completely collapse.
Please sign this petition to tell District leaders that you care about the safety net for victims, survivors, and their families.
Today, we are facing the imminent collapse of the District’s support network for thousands of victims of crimes, including domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. Without immediate action, DC will exhaust ALL local funds available to support victims and their families by 2012.
We're calling on our Council champions to take immediate action to ensure that victims and their children do not pay for the current economic downturn with their lives. Please:
1. REJECT the proposed 10% cut to OVS’s FY11 Budget.
2. COMMIT to establishing support dedicated revenue for DC Victim Services in 2012.
We are out of time and options. Failure to reject FY11 cuts and identify and appropriate dedicated funds in early 2012, will result in a collapse of the city’s victim services network, costing lives and millions of dollars in related services.
Here's why your action and commitment is critical: In recent years, despite increased demand for services, the District has chipped away at the baseline budget for the Office of Victim Services. By 2012, there will be no local funding available for victims and their families as both the Victim’s Assistance Fund and the Domestic Violence Shelter Fund will be totally exhausted.
Without a responsible investment to stabilize services, the problems of the city’s thousands of victims and their families will quickly compound, forcing the expenditure of many more millions of dollars in court, law enforcement, housing and other social services by the District. Consider just some of the implications:
- With your leadership, the District has invested in much-needed shelter beds for victims of crime.
Any additional cuts coupled with the absence of a sustained funding stream will mean defaulting
on these facilities and the loss of more nearly 600 critical shelter beds, returning the District to
the appalling level of just 48 emergency shelter beds for victims and their children fleeing abuse.
- On just one day in 2009, DC domestic violence programs served nearly 400 women, men and
children – more than 100 requests were unmet on that day due to lack of resources.
- In less than 3 years, one DC domestic violence program has provided victims and their children
with more than 18,000 safe nights.
- In 2009, the DVIC’s saw the number of teens seeking service triple, and nearly 75% of the 4,796
clients served were new clients. Yet, even as demand grows, resources dwindle, forcing reduced
staffing and programming.
- Additional cuts to OVS’s grant funds will force the Freddie Mac Foundation Child and Adolescent
Center to close, leaving as many as 1,500 District children with suspected maltreatment with zero
access to medical care. Further, DC criminal and civil attorneys will have decreased access to
the skilled experts who ensure successful prosecution of child abusers.
- Each week, HIPS assists more than 5,000 male and female sex workers – many of whom have
never before sought victim assistance – on the streets of DC. Funding cuts will force HIPS to shut
down its 24-Hour Hotline, which ensures counseling and emergency assistance – often the link
between life and death and a safe, productive life - is just a phone call away for thousands.
- In 2010, the DC Rape Crisis Center has served more than 9,000 survivors of sexual assault and
rape – 200 of whom were youth. Without protected funding, these women and teens will have
nowhere to turn in just a matter of months.
Eliminating funds for victim services will cost the city millions of dollars in health care, law enforcement and other social costs. Victim Service agencies are a critical link in the District’s victim response safety net. Destroying that leaves vital programs within the Metropolitan Police Department, local hospitals, and the court system overwhelmed and under resourced.
We can and must do better. We come not only with concerns but with proposed solutions and a continuing commitment to work proactively with you moving forward.
Because the District is one of the few jurisdictions without dedicated victim services funding, we can look to our national partners for best practices. Our research reveals states have successfully used innovative mechanisms to fund victim services, including, but not limited to: birth certificate fees; court fines/fees; death certificate fees; divorce certificate fees; general funds; jury service contributions; marriage license fees; permanent fund dividends; special revenue funds; tax contributions and credits; tax on contributions and credits; tax on sales/transactions; trust funds; and vanity license plates.
Please reject additional cuts to the FY11 budget for victim services and commit to working with us proactively in 2012 to resolve this crisis. While we understand you face incredibly difficult decisions, the Council must avoid severing the already fragile lifeline for thousands of our most vulnerable citizens. Additional cuts won’t help resolve the city’s budget problems. Rather, they will, with certainty, exact additional costs in the form of lives and city resources.
Thank you for your thoughtful leadership in this challenging time.