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Domestic Violence Coalition Says State Agency Owes Money to Shelters
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Two high profile cases in Connecticut in the last month have brought attention to the importance of domestic violence prevention. But local advocates says lack of funding from the state still limits services to victims of domestic violence.

For several years, the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence has asked the Legislature and Governor Rell for additional funds to all sixteen shelters to stay open 24/7.  Speaking on WNPR's Where We Live, Coalition Executive Director, Erika Tindill says Connecticut is just one of five states that don't keep all of their shelters open around the clock.

"The residents of the shelter are left alone there overnight. People can come find them of there could be accidents or incidents in the shelter."

Tindill says it would cost the state $3 million dollars each year to keep the shelters open 24/7.  She says so far the Governor has allocated an additional $1 million dollars of stimulus money.  But she says more money is owed to domestic violence shelters from the state Department of Social Services.

"There is a Connecticut law when people apply to get a marriage license, there's a fee.  Part of that money goes to shelter services for victims of household abuse.  There is nearly a million dollars, $946, 555 that is sitting with DSS since 2004 that has not been allocated to our member programs for shelter services."

DSS spokesman David Dearborn says the agency is working with the Coalition to identify ways to use the money.  He explains why the entire million dollars won't be handed over.

"To fund 24/7, more money is needed.  We don't want to be in a position where we turn over a lump sum to fund a service that may evaporate in a year or two years, the service would need to be sustainable or else it would not be the best use of this money."

Dearborn says revenue from the fee has been used for one shot or non-recurring projects like furniture and security system purchases at the domestic violence shelters.


 

Connecticut's Domestic

Connecticut's Domestic Violence Shelters have been underfunded for decades.  Most spend much effort raising money year round to keep shelters open and basic needs met for victims who have no other safe options.  Meanwhile, DSS holds back dollars specifically designated for Domestic Violence services.  It would not be "one time money" if it were allocated each year, rather than the flat funding, in reality a cut in available funding, that has been in the state budget each year.  In this economy, the incidence of DV is going up, the options are going down, and more headlines will be cause for discussion.  When will someone in Hartford actually do something to fix this mess?