Women’s safety advocates are calling on Congress to increase funding for the nation’s domestic violence shelters, which are being forced to scale back or eliminate services due to the ailing economy, reports Women’s eNews, a nonprofit news service. “During these grim economic times, when shelters are struggling mightily to do more with less and serve a population in great need, maintaining and expanding core state and federal funding for these emergency shelters becomes even more essential,” said Anne Menard, director of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence in Harrisburg, Pa.
Menard spoke this week at a news conference marking the release of a study showing the effectiveness of shelters in meeting survivors’ needs, which she and other advocates plan to use in a campaign to lobby lawmakers for more money for shelters. Their most immediate goal is full funding of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, a decades-old formula grant that funds basic operating costs at many of the nation’s 2,000-odd domestic violence programs and shelters. Congress is currently authorized to spend up to $175 million a year for the program. But the actual allocation of federal dollars is subject to a congressional vote, and lawmakers last year set aside $123 million, down from $125 million in fiscal 2007.