Ensuring Domestic Violence Survivors’ Safety – Center for American Progress

However, existing DV programs and shelters must receive even more funding to ensure that they can remain operational and safe, with access to any necessary protective equipment, particularly in times of crisis such as the ongoing pandemic. Funding must go beyond the amount allocated in the CARES Act for Family Violence Prevention and Services Act programs to provide additional resources to U.S. Department of Justice-administered and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-administered programs, including enhanced for funding Sexual Assault Services Program formula grants, transitional housing programs, and culturally specific programs—all of which are essential to begin to remedy economic insecurity among survivors.32 Another important priority of domestic violence and sexual assault survivor advocates is to pass a legislative fix to VOCA that would increase deposits to the Crime Victims Fund and thus help to prevent further cuts to victims’ services, such as counseling and assistance with medical bills.33 In addition, as noted earlier, VAWA must be reauthorized and expanded to ensure that survivors can continue to access many of the aforementioned lifesaving programs and services as well as benefit from essential new provisions such as restricting gun ownership and possession for dating partners convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic abuse or misdemeanor stalking of an intimate partner.34 In April, New York passed its state budget, which included measures to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. However, survivors remain at increased risk of DV and related gun violence in the absence of federal legislation.35 The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on May 15, 2020, includes additional funding for survivor services that would allow shelters and programs to continue providing services, such as transitional housing assistance and legal assistance to survivors. It also specifically prohibits sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in federally funded COVID-19 responses.36 The provisions in the HEROES Act recognize the urgent need for survivor supports; however, additional investments from Congress will be required to fully address survivors’ needs during this ongoing crisis.

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