LIMA — Crossroads Crisis Center for domestic violence survivors may soon be forced to scale back services amid substantial cuts to its main funding source, the Victims of Crime Act grant.
Ohio’s Victims of Crime Act grant allocation suffered $20 million in cuts this year, while funding for domestic violence programs was reduced by $7.7 million as fines from federal prosecutions that support VOCA funding have declined, according to the Ohio Domestic Violence Network.
Crossroads Crisis Center’s VOCA funding has since been cut by nearly 36%, or $118,000 which the shelter uses to pay staff, utilities, housing and operational expenses.
The shelter has since scaled back its financial aid to domestic violence survivors, who often need help with unexpected expenses like obtaining new IDs or birth certificates and buying bus tickets out of the county, Crossroads Crisis Center Director Christel Keller explained.
And more cuts may be coming.
“We’re already seeing that those things that we would typically pay for, that we no longer can,” Keller said.
The Ohio Domestic Violence Network and other agencies are asking the Ohio legislature to increase funding for shelter programs from $1 million to $5 million next year to offset VOCA funding losses.
The funding cuts come as domestic violence shelters are already adapting their services amid a pandemic that has made communal living more challenging.
While Crossroads Crisis Center has not seen an increase in survivors seeking support, Keller said there has been an increase in domestic violence-related police reports made since the start of the pandemic.
“It could mean that survivors are scared to come into communal living,” she said.
Because of those concerns, the Lima shelter now asks survivors questions about their possible exposure to coronavirus before coming to live in the shelter.
Families have their own bedrooms and access to common areas, which are sanitized regularly, Keller said. But families are also encouraged to stagger mealtimes to avoid having close contact with other households.
And children who are homeschooled have access to computers and advocates who can help with schoolwork, Keller said.
“We want to make sure that when survivors come into communal living,” she said, “that we can help them in understanding and having a safe environment here.”