(Posted Oct. 23, 2019)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Funding has fallen through for a new domestic violence shelter in Madison County.
The Victim Witness Division of the county Prosecutor’s Office applied for a Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to fund a county-run shelter. The county has been without a domestic violence shelter since late 2017 when A Friend’s House, a privately run shelter, closed.
The division applied for approximately $315,000 in VOCA funding. The plan was for Madison County Future Inc., the county’s community improvement corporation (CIC), to construct a four-bedroom facility that the county would assume through a rent-to-own agreement. The grant was to pay for rent, staffing, training, furnishings, maintenance, groceries and supplies–everything needed to get the shelter up and running for one year.
Earlier this month, the division received notice that the state denied the grant request due to a significant cut in funding.
VOCA grants are funded through settlements and court costs associated with white-collar crimes. In 2012, the federal government allocated $12 billion in VOCA funds to states for local distribution. This year, that national total was $2.7 billion. Ohio received $30 million less in VOCA funds this year than last year.
As a result, the state did not award grants for new programs and projects, such as Madison County’s project. They also denied grants for public awareness programs, cut some programs that were not in compliance, and cut funding for all continuous programs by 7 percent.
“We’re going back to the drawing board,” said Brooke Musselman of Madison County’s Victim Witness Division.
She said she is not sure what the next step will be, but that she plans to continue to apply for funding each year for a county-run shelter.
In the meantime, she said, “We’ll just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”
Without a local shelter, county officials rely on shelters outside the county and temporary housing solutions, such as hotels, to help victims.
“We’ve been able to make it work. It’s not ideal but at least we’re removing them from dangerous homes,” Musselman said.
The state did award the Victim Witness Division $45,000 this year (down from $50,000 last year) for system-based programming, including relocation of victims of domestic violence. Musselman said the county commissioners also said they will provide support for such relocations.