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DC Victim Services Alliance

Asian Pacific American Legal


Resource Center Testimony before the Committee on the Whole Regarding the Fiscal Year 2011
Contact: Revised Budget Request Act of 2010 and the Fiscal Year 2011 Supplemental Budget Support
Rebecca O’Connor
Asian Pacific Islander Domestic
202.299.1181
Act of 2010.
Violence Resource Project (DVRP)
boconnor@dccadv.org

Ayuda Good afternoon. I am Karma Cottman, the Executive Director of the District of
Break the Cycle Columbia Coalition Against Domestic Violence (“the Coalition”). Thank you, Chairman Gray, for

Center for Child Protection and your leadership and commitment to providing legal protections and support services for victims
Family Support
of crime. Today, I testify on behalf of not only the Coalition, but for the recently established
Children’s National Medical Center
District of Columbia Victim Services Alliance. A list of Alliance members, which include
DC Coalition Against Domestic providers who support the District’s victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault,
Violence
child abuse and neglect, human trafficking, stalking and homicide, is included in our submitted
DC Rape Crisis Center
statement. Later you will hear from William Kellibrew, a survivor of multiple forms of
Deaf and Abused Women Network
(DAWN) victimization regarding the critical need for sustained, coordinated victim services.

District Alliance for Safe Housing, We recognize that you face incredibly difficult decisions, and appreciate the opportunity
Inc. (DASH)
today to express our continued commitment to work with the Council to identify strategies that
Domestic Violence Legal enhance cost saving s and ensure that DC residents have access to the critical services they
Empowerment and Appeals Project
(DV LEAP) need.
HIPS We have heard repeatedly, that public safety has been spared drastic budgets cuts and
House of Ruth would like to take a moment to clarify: DC’s Victim Service Agencies are in a position similar to

Latin American Youth Center the District as a whole, as explained by Chairman Gray last week. Much to the credit of the

Legal Aid Society


Office of Victim Services, local programs have worked collaboratively, conservatively using
funds even in the face of increased demand for service. At the same time, the Victims
My Sister’s Place
Assistance Fund –one of the city’s two small revenue streams designated to support victim
National Law Center on
Homelessness and Poverty services - has been drained – in 2012, there will be $0 left. Facing this reality, an additional
Polaris Project 10% cut, and no new revenue on the horizon, the Office of Victim Services will use its final

Ramona’s Way reserves – the Emergency Shelter Fund - In order to keep services running in FY11. In 2012,

Survivors and Advocates for


what little is left will be gone – and the city’s support system for victims of crime and their
Empowerment (SAFE), Inc. children will absolutely collapse.
WEAVE, Inc. So what does this mean? We are at a crisis point and cannot sustain more cuts because
Wendt Center for Loss and Healing is simply nothing left to cut. Moreover, we cannot sit idly by. We must create a designated
Safe Shores The D.C. Children’s funding stream to support DC’s victim services. Please understand – while today’s focus is also
Advocacy Center
about staving off additional funding cuts, the victim services community must also focus on a
The William Kellibrew Foundation
sound investment in victim services – and the District cannot afford to ignore this plea. We
would not otherwise come to you at this point with such a request.
Contact: Rebecca O’Connor
boconnor@dccadv.org
202.299.1181 x 102
The Victim Services Alliance has worked proactively and tirelessly with the Council and the
Administration to identify short and long-term solutions to this crisis – and will continue to. Internally,
we have increased fundraising efforts and streamlined services to reduce our reliance on city funds. We
have continued to seek out and secure federal grants to support victim services. This year, recognizing
the life and death crisis at hand, the Victim Services community united, launching a federal campaign to
secure a one-time $5 million federal appropriation. However, we cannot sustain the safety net for this
vulnerable population without the Council’s support and leadership. While our efforts have successfully
secured language in the House Appropriations FY11 bill, a Continued Resolution is likely, meaning this
money will not materialize. Additionally, we have repeatedly heard loud and clear from our
Congressional supporters, including Delegate Holmes Norton, that the District must take the lead and
responsibility for solving this crisis. DC must identify its own revenue stream to continue supporting
victim services – failure to do so will result in a complete collapse of DC’s fragile victim services network
in a mere matter of months.
Please be clear what this means: even without cuts to OVS’ existing budget, the District faces the
imminent closure of multiple victim service agencies across the City. Severing this lifeline for thousands
of DC residents will leave the Metropolitan Police Department, local hospitals, and the court system
overwhelmed and under resourced. Attached to our written testimony is a fact sheet which provides
specific examples of the impact additional cuts to OVS will have on your constituents. To highlight just a
few examples of the devastating impact:

Impact for victims of domestic violence & their children:


 On just one day in September, 2009, domestic violence programs in DC served more than 390
women, men and children. That same day, more than 100 requests for service were unmet –
largely due to a critical shortage of resources and staff.
 One of the Coalition’s member programs has, in just under 3 years, provided victims of domestic
violence and their children with 18,005 safe nights. Another program saw an alarming 36%
increase in demand for their services in the last year.
 Over the past 5 years, 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 than 200 critical shelter beds that will return us, at best, to
a time when we had fewer than 50 shelter beds for victims and their children.
DC Victim Services Alliance

Impact for survivors of homicide:


 The Mayor’s proposal will eliminate the RECOVER Program – the only nationally-recognized model
of crisis grief support for over 2,500 survivors of homicide each year.

Impact for victims of child abuse and neglect:


 A reduction in available grant funds will force closure of the Freddie Mac Foundation Child and
Adolescent Protection Center, meaning as many as 1,500 children for whom maltreatment is
suspected will have no access to medical care in the DC Metropolitan Area.
 As a result, DC criminal and civil attorneys will have a decreased access to experts skilled in
recognizing sexual abuse, and successful prosecutions will decline.

Conclusion

Responsible budgeting isn’t just about cutting: it’s about making responsible choices to save and protect
the city’s most vulnerable citizens. We can and must do better. Consider this: The DC Fire Department
has $1 million in annually dedicated funds for special events! With that funding, lives can be saved.

We are committed to work in partnership with the Council and Administration to identify and
implement short and long-term solutions to the victim services funding crisis. To that end, the victim
services community is conducting in-depth research into other jurisdictions’ best practices for funding
and sustaining victim services – including the use of marriage and divorce license fees to support victim
services. We have held preliminary conversations with many members of the Council regarding our
concrete revenue enhancement recommendations and anticipate, in the weeks ahead, continued
dialogue. The victim services community also supports recommendations, as put forth by the Fair
Budget Coalition (of which many of our programs are members), for progressive tax increases to support
services
While we understand the District has been hit hard by the economic crisis, decimating the
District’s victim services budget at a time when our community members are at their most vulnerable is
unacceptable. We cannot expect to overcome budget shortfalls on the backs of the city’s victims of
crime. Thank you for your time and serious consideration of this matter. I am happy to answer
questions.