With an expectation of increased domestic abuse cases as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis, Congresswoman Jackie Speier and three more Democratic colleagues in Congress are calling for over $500 in additional funds to support domestic violence programs.
“Research shows that public crises significantly increase the rate of domestic and sexual violence and that unemployment is a risk factor for domestic and sexual violence,” according to a letter (in full here) signed by Rep. Speier, Friday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Congresswomen Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Annie Kuster (D-NH) joined Rep. Speier in signing the letter.
“Many survivors were housing insecure and were facing financial hardship before the COVID-19 pandemic and are working in the service industry or in low-wage jobs,” the letter states. “Losing their jobs means either returning to abusive relationships or seeking victim services and housing assistance that they previously did not need. They may also find more urgency in leaving abusive relationships and seeking assistance if they are quarantined with an abuser.”
The letter calls both for funding increases for specific programs, including those supporting particularly vulnerable communities such as the Tribes.
The letter identifies where funding increases are needed:
- At least $100M: Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Sexual Assault Service Program (SASP) by at least $100 million;
- At least $100M: Family Violence Prevention and Services Act by at least $100 million;
- At least $100M:: Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Continuum of Care Domestic Violence Bonus;
- $100M: VAWA STOP grants by $100 million;
- $40M: VAWA transitional housing;
- $20M: VAWA housing vouchers at HUD by $20 million;
- $20M: VAWA Culturally Specific Services for Victims grant program and Outreach and Services to Underserved Populations;
- $10M: VAWA Training and Services to End Violence Against Women with Disabilities to provide victim services by $10 million; and
- $10M: VAWA Training and Services to End Abuse in Later Life to provide victim services by $10 million.
- $2M: The National Domestic Violence Hotline;
- HUD Emergency Solutions Grants and Disaster Housing Assistance programs and require distribution to domestic violence and sexual assault organizations
The letter also calls for providing paid safe leave for survivors and access to unemployment insurance if they are forced to leave their jobs due to domestic or sexual violence.
If you are in danger, please use a safe, trusted computer, or call 911, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. For more information, please visit www.thehotline.org/help/.