Workers at Domestic Violence Shelters Are Covering Lost Shutdown Funds Out of Their Own Pockets

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Three weeks into the government shutdown, President Donald Trump’s tantrum over $5.7 billion for a border wall is on its way to impacting shelters for survivors nationwide.

According to a rather poorly headlined Friday report in Politico, shelters that receive Justice Department funding to assist survivors of domestic violence, child abuse, and similar crimes (such as human trafficking and elder abuse) have been told that the department will only be able to process funding requests until January 18. Steve Derene, the executive director of the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators, told Politico that these funds—such as the more than $3 billion in assistance grants under the Victims of Crime Act—support thousands of programs across the country.


In anticipation of this lapse in grant funding, some organizations have already taken matters into their own hands. Amy Pohl, associate director of Colorado’s state domestic violence coalition Violence Free Colorado, told Politico that one shelter’s staff members are already buying supplies on their own and donating them to the shelter. Other programs across the state are “freezing buying supplies,” she said, such as “shelter supplies and even food for people in shelters.”

“The already strapped staff that doesn’t know if they’re going to get a paycheck this month are the ones out there buying supplies,” Pohl told Politico.


While organizations have until next Friday to submit funding requests, Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs has already begun telling these shelters that the request list is piling up, and that requests need to be submitted as soon as possible.

That’s not all. As a result of a different lapse in funding from the Justice Department’s Crime Victims Fund, Politico reported earlier this week, 28 counseling and crisis intervention groups in Florida which help sexual assault victims were scheduled to stop receiving grant funds today, January 11. Should the shutdown continue, at least eight programs will have to cut their staffs in the next three weeks, and by early February, five more programs will cut their services.

President Trump’s shutdown over an unpopular, nonsensical wall continues to harm and negatively affect hundreds of thousands of people, particularly the people who need help the most.