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Georgia agencies asking legislators to increase state funding for domestic violence victims

Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia will lose $150,000 due to VOCA funding cuts.

MACON, Ga. — Agencies across Georgia serving victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse are asking the Georgia Legislature to increase state funding so they can meet each victim's needs. One of those agencies is right in Macon.

"Their services are invaluable to people who need them," Miranda Ferrell said.

Ferrell is a domestic violence survivor who says the Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia saved her life.

"If I hadn't have had the shelter, I would have wound up homeless with my two kids," Ferrell said.

Ferrell says she was housed, and for two months, the shelter helped her budget and save money so that she was able to purchase a new home.

"There's a lot that goes into meeting the needs of the clients, especially those of us with kids, too," Ferrell said.

Executive director of Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia Dee Simms says they want to continue serving victims, but a lack of funding might make this difficult.

"Recently, there have been a number of cuts to the state in the VOCA funding that is being drawn down from the federal sources. Crisis Line and Safe House alone looks to lose $150,000," Simms said.

Simms says Crisis Line and Safe House currently receives $38,000 a year in state funding.

"Not 38,000 for Houston County, not 38,000 for Bibb, but 38,000 total for services to seven counties." Simms said.

Services include forensic examinations, counseling, accompaniment for law enforcement interviews and trial.

Simms says the amount that they receive in state funding is not enough given the rise in cases they've dealt with since the pandemic began.

"During the pandemic, there were times when we were at 180% of our capacity," Simms said.

 Last year, Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia says they provided shelter to nearly 4,500 victims -- about 20 percent more than in 2019.

Simms says she expects this year's numbers to rise again.

"We are asking our state government, the general assembly, our delegations, to approve $2.7 million to be distributed to sexual assault centers and domestic violence shelter programs to offset that VOCA funding loss," Simms said.

Dee Simms says if this is approved, Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia would receive $156,000, which would be a great help. 

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