Santa Clara County rape crisis centers to receive $600K to support survivors
Supervisor Cindy Chavez spoke Tuesday about how $600,000 of county funding for local rape crisis centers will help local sexual assault survivors. Photo by Katie Lauer.

    Santa Clara lawmakers voted this week to award $600,000 to two local rape crisis centers for sexual assault survivors, the latest push by county leaders to bolster women’s services and combat sexual violence.

    The YWCA-Silicon Valley will receive $503,000 in funding and $97,000 will be allotted to Community Solutions through two one-time contracts.

    Supervisor Cindy Chavez, who led the effort, said the financial support will help beef up staffing and boost vital services that can be offered to county residents — especially in the wake of a decrease in state funding.

    “The YWCA and Community Solutions have been incredibly underfunded, and what they’ve done with very little resources is amazing,” Chavez said. “But we want to make sure that every victim knows that we’ve got their back and that we’re going to walk them through this process to get the counseling they need.”

    Chavez said the recommendation stems from a desire to help prepare for an increase in demand for services and patch up a shortage in funding. In May, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal did not renew $5 million in one-time funding for rape crisis centers statewide. The total amount for sexual assault services from the state’s general fund is only $45,000.

    YWCA Silicon Valley CEO Tanis Crosby told San José Spotlight that the lack of financial support is “shameful” and counter to the needs of survivors across California.

    “It is shameful that the state is not funding sexual assault services,” Crosby said. “I am heartened that our local leaders are stepping up. The governor should too.”

    Funding the YWCA and Community Solutions wasn’t the only action taken this week. The county will also expand where survivors can get access to medical exams. Currently, sexual assault forensics exams are only performed at the Santa Clara County Valley Medical Center.

    But Santa Clara County is expecting an expansion of services to south county and north county by Feb. 1, 2020.

    Crosby said the county funding will provide additional victim advocates at triple the rape center locations, which is an important part of the continuum of support, especially as the centers have seen an uptick in service requests.

    “It’s so important that survivors have choice and opportunity and service, when and how they need it,” she said.

    That’s the goal Chavez had in mind.

    “We want to make sure that we can get people spread out in a way that they can respond as quickly as possible to the need,” Chavez said. “I think that the scariest time for women is waiting, and we want to take that away as much as possible. I believe by fully funding the system, we’re going to create an opportunity for more people to report, and for people who do report to get all the support they need to get back on their feet again.”

    Contact Katie Lauer at [email protected] or follow @_katielauer on Twitter.

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