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City Attorney Says Domestic Violence Resources Available Despite Funding Drop

City Atty. Zach Klein and Columbus Councilmember Shayla Favor.
Nick Evans

A sharp reduction in federal funds is cutting into the budgets of organizations that assist survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking around Ohio.

Hundreds of Ohio organizations are receiving grants, but the $55.5 million of federal funding is less than half of what was available two years ago. That means most providers are cutting budgets by about a third, paring back services, and even contemplating layoffs.

But City Attorney Zach Klein says his office’s Domestic Violence and Stalking unit is still up and running, ready to help.

“We provide education, support, counseling, crisis intervention, we also prosecute the perpetrators the abusers, we help victims with safety planning,” Klein says. “So Monday through Saturday when my office is open, we’re working with victims all day long.”

Attorney General Dave Yost oversees Ohio’s federal funding allocation. In August, he joined every other state attorney general in calling for changes to better maintain the fund.

The changes are fairly straightforward, says Mary O’Doherty of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network. The Crime Victims Fund is fed by fines and forfeitures in federal cases, but as prosecutors have moved toward different kinds of settlements, that source of funding has declined.

O’Doherty says the problem could be solved by altering federal law so that fines and fees from non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements would still flow to the Crime Victims Fund. Yost and the other attorneys general argue that change alone would’ve generated $8 billion in each of the last two years.

“It should be at the top of the list, and the list is long,” Klein says. “Advocating for Congress and Washington to get their act together to figure this out is vitally important.”

O’Doherty notes the tweaks are in the latest version of the HEROES Act, a sweeping coronavirus relief measure passed this month by the House. But the Senate has declined to take up the proposal.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.