Funding for family violence drops when shelters need help most


COLUMBUS (WCMH) – COVID-19 has impacted households around the world, especially those who may not even be safe in their homes. But with the increase in domestic violence during the pandemic, funding has declined when shelters need funds most.

“This is one of those salons I mentioned. Just a little place, ”remarks Susan Villilo, as she pauses at the sight of a mattress standing against the wall. “Maybe someone slept in there; we could be so full.

At the CHOICES Domestic Violence Shelter of Lutheran Social Services, they were also full all year round. Right now they even have a waiting list for families and people in need of shelter.

“We have been overcapacity at the shelter since December 2020,” said Villilo, assistant vice president of community services for Lutheran social services.

With 138 people currently housed, CHOICES quickly exceeded its capacity of 120 beds. Force the refuge to accelerate its plans to expand the facility.

“We thought when we built the building that was somewhere down the road; 3, 5, 10 years, maybe. We didn’t expect to have to do it within 2 years of starting the building, ”Villilo said.

For Villilo, the expansion couldn’t have happened soon enough. She said CHOIX has seen a 16% increase in high-danger calls during the pandemic – many of which are from the police.

“It doesn’t say, ‘We have someone who needs a place to stay’, it says, ‘I’m with someone who is going to be killed or seriously injured if we don’t get them out of here. “” Villilo said.

But funding has become a growing challenge for shelters like CHOICES, after the previous administration in Washington cut more than $ 400,000 in funding over the past two years.

“The Violence Against Women Dollars Act has been at the top of our priority, and certainly at the top of my priority since I’ve been in Congress, and even before,” said Joyce Beatty, Congressman of the Ohio.

The latest budget from Ohio lawmakers will certainly help close that gap. $ 5 million has been allocated to domestic violence shelters this year, and an additional $ 2.5 million the following year. The federal government has also pledged new funds to take effect next year.

“It was important for us to provide these dollars so that women had access to shelter, counseling and means to help them maintain their livelihoods and jobs,” said Beatty.

Despite the cuts, CHOIX has managed to maintain all the services offered to families and their children over the past year.

“Medical and dental services, we have case management services, we have counseling, all here in the building. We have a lawyer who can help with the legal system, ”Villilo said. “We just do a ton of recreational and social activities, we have a lot of groups.”

Give security with a helping hand, until the victims can get back on their feet.

“We don’t see an end in sight,” Villilo said. “We think this is sort of a lagging indicator with both COVID and the economy, and we think we’re going to continue to be at these very high numbers of people seeking service for a while. Again.”

For those in need of shelter, CHOICES has a 24 hour crisis hotline run by qualified lawyers at (614)224-4663

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