Unless Funds Are Replaced, Local Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Abuse Will Pay the Price
(June 24, 2021)
Millions of dollars in lost state funding is threatening to disrupt services for Western North Carolina (WNC) victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking, as well as similar services across the state.
The grants, which come from the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission’s allocation of federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) funds, are scheduled to end on September 30, 2021.
Pisgah Legal Services (PLS) is losing $1.2 million in VOCA funding over the next two years. Other local nonprofits that have also lost funding include: Helpmate, Our VOICE and The Mediation Center. See how these organizations work together to serve clients effectively and compassionately.
What Impact Will This Have on People Here in WNC?
- This grant is Pisgah Legal Services’ largest abuse prevention grant. These funds would have enabled Pisgah Legal Services to serve more than 3,500 adults and children per year and paid most of the costs for five attorneys, two victim advocates, two legal assistants, and an immigration law advocate.
- The funding was used to serve clients in rural areas of 17 WNC counties with services prioritized for people of color, immigrants and people in more remote areas, who have been the most adversely affected by the pandemic.
- Watch this news story on WLOS
- Read more in this Citizen-Times Story
Why Did Pisgah Legal Services Lose VOCA Funding?
- The VOCA fund is filled by fines and penalties from federal prosecutions and a change in administrative process over the past several years greatly depleted the fund. VOCA grant dollars have decreased nationally, and the impact on the state and WNC is severe.
Why Are These Legal Services So Important?
- Read “Amy’s” Story, a harrowing account of how a woman and her children escaped abuse with help from Pisgah Legal Services.
- Pisgah Legal Services provides free legal services to help people experiencing domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking to escape abuse and rebuild their lives.
- PLS attorneys, advocates, and support staff help people obtain court protective orders, custody of their children, safe homes, and resources so that they can separate from their abusers.
- People who cannot afford an attorney suffer greater harm because they have much more difficulty separating their lives from their abusers.
- Unrepresented victims are more likely to return to their abusers for economic reasons or to be with their children.
Can the Funds be Replaced?
- A bipartisan solution was recently approved by Congress and signed by President Biden to fix the issue. Unfortunately, it will take four to five years to feel the impact for programs in our community that rely on these funds.
- Replacement funding is critically needed now from state and local governments, donors, faith communities, and foundations to mitigate this loss and prevent a dire lack of services for victims.
- State and local governments could use American Rescue Plan Act funds to fill these gaps. Foundations could make substantial grants to ensure victims are served during this critical period. Gifts from individuals, corporations, and faith groups will be essential.
How Can I Help?
- Please make a donation online to Pisgah Legal Services, or contact Director of Development Ally Wilson at (828) 210-3444 for other giving options.
- Contact these elected state officials to encourage them to replace this important community funding:
- Tim Moore, Speaker of the N.C. House, [email protected], (919) 733-3451
- Phil Berger, President Pro Tempore of the N.C. Senate, [email protected], (919) 733-5708
- Senior Chairs of the N.C. House Appropriations Committee:
- Chairs of the N.C. Senate Appropriations Committee: