Washington, D.C., officials want to use nearly $25 million in an unspent crime victims aid fund to provide a comprehensive network for victims of violent crime, reports the Washington Post. The plan calls for increasing emergency housing, improving counseling, instituting a 24-hour multilingual hotline, and establishing a single office where services can be accessed.
The Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund has been growing over two decades with cash from court fines and fees. Collected and held by the Superior Court, the money has been used to reimburse crime victims for medical costs, loss of wages, and other immediate emergency needs.
There has long been a surplus. In 2000, Congress threatened to take back $18 million the city had collected but never used. Margret Nedelkoff Kellems, new as deputy mayor for public safety and justice, had rushed a plan for using the money for victims’ services to Capitol Hill to meet a deadline, but the plan was rejected as too light on specifics. This week, she laid out a five-year budget for the money in a detailed report created in consultation with the city’s social service agencies.