A tall county government building with trees in the foreground
Santa Clara County's latest budget proposal manages to cut a projected multimillion-dollar deficit nearly in half. File photo.

In Santa Clara County, 41% of women with children experiencing homelessness report violence as being the primary cause, while 39% return to an unsafe home because they have nowhere else to go.

Last year the Domestic Violence Advocacy Consortium of Santa Clara County provided direct services to more than 14,000 survivors and responded to more than 31,500 calls through our 24-hour hotlines. Consortium agencies — Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI), Community Solutions, Maitri, Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence and YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley — provide trauma-informed and culturally responsive services to survivors of gender-based violence throughout the county. These services include emergency shelter, case management, health services, mental health counseling, legal aid, immigration assistance and financial supports.

Despite our best efforts, almost 800 people had to be turned away from safe haven in our shelters due to lack of capacity.

Services like those provided by our organizations are largely funded through the Victims of Crimes Act, a 1984 federal law that established funding through fines and penalties from federal convictions, not taxpayer funds.

Unfortunately, this essential fund has decreased over time, with experts anticipating more than $700 million in cuts nationally in the coming year and more than $2.1 million in cuts for Santa Clara County alone. If left unaddressed, our county could lose as much as 40% of our emergency shelter and housing programs for survivors, 30% of our rape crisis services and 30% of services for child survivors of abuse and neglect.

For Eve, a local survivor whose name has been changed for her safety, it’s clear what’s at stake.

Eve, a monolingual Vietnamese-speaking mother of two, sought help from AACI’s Asian Women’s Home after fleeing abuse from her partner. She was afraid for her family and needed protection. Her bilingual advocate helped her file for a restraining order and child custody, connected her to child care and supported a seamless move to Maitri’s transitional housing program.

Eve is now on her way to self-sufficiency and independence. She is taking English language classes, searching for employment and learning to drive. Her children love their child care, and Eve shared that her advocate helped her have faith and guided her to her next steps for her family. She no longer has negative thoughts and has begun seeing the good in life.

All survivors deserve the safety and new beginning that Eve and her family have experienced. Unfortunately, funding for these lifesaving services is at serious risk.

California is often seen as a leader in prioritizing issues that matter. With cuts to federal funding threatening services that so many survivors of gender-based violence rely on, it is critical that state and local governments step in to fill the funding gap. Despite a challenging budget cycle, the state must find a way to prioritize and preserve these essential services. Lives depend on this. It will be a tough fight — one where community voices will make all the difference in tipping the balance.

Help us spread awareness on this important issue among your friends, family members, colleagues and neighbors. Contact your state representatives. Urge them to include $200 million for crime victim services in next year’s state budget. Ask them to support Assemblymember Eloise Reyes’ bill AB 1956, which creates a state law to backfill federal funds, and Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel’s bill AB 2432, which provides future funding through corporate penalties. Reach out to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and urge members to set aside ongoing funding for crime victim services.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Survivors, like Eve, who rely on these essential services are running out of time.

The Domestic Violence Advocacy Consortium of Santa Clara County is comprised of AACI, Community Solutions, Maitri, Next Door Solutions and YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley.

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