Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Governor signs bill restoring funding for domestic violence shelters

LAKE COUNTY – October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and shelters around the state got good news on Tuesday – much-needed funding was restored temporarily with the signing of a new piece of legislation.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SBX3 13 by state Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose) to restore $16.3 million of state funding to support California domestic violence shelters.

Gloria Flaherty, executive director of Lake Family Resource Center, which is in the process of opening its new Freedom House shelter in downtown Kelseyville, greeted the news with relief. She said it will mean victims can once again get comprehensive services and the center's remaining staff will get some help.

The bipartisan legislation provides a one-time loan from the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Fund to fund domestic violence shelters statewide for the 2009-10 fiscal year, according to the Governor's Office.

Officials said the loan will be repaid with interest at the rate earned by the Pooled Money Investment Account by June 30, 2013.

“I want to congratulate the many groups that put victims first and came together to find this creative solution that will keep domestic violence shelters throughout the state open,” Schwarzenegger said.

He called the bill “good news for every Californian whose life is devastated by violence in the home,” and noted that it will help ensure domestic violence victims have a safe place to go.

Schwarzenegger had cut domestic violence shelter funding in July by using his line-item veto. Opponents called the move illegal, while Schwarzenegger countered it was needed to balance the budget.

Flaherty noted that, since the funding was cut in July, six shelters in the state have closed and dozens more, including Lake County's, have cut staff and services. Lake Family Resource Center laid off four staff members.

The bill had passed the Legislature with bipartisan support during the special session.

First District Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata) said it was a relief that the bill had moved forward, noting that shelters in rural communities have been on the verge of closing their doors.

“The services the shelters provide – counseling, legal, advocacy, medical and housing assistance – are vital to helping victims restore harmony to their lives,” he said.

Flaherty said Lake Family Resource Center expects to get back about 70 percent of its previous budget, which would amount to about $150,000.

She said the solution is a temporary fix, and because of that they won't be able to restore full-time jobs with benefits to those individuals laid off. Instead, they will be forced to offer part-time, temporary positions until they know the funding is stable and continuing.

“We hope Lake County residents will support and participate in our efforts to advocate that the state make domestic violence prevention and intervention a priority by permanently reinstating a state-based grant program again,” said Flaherty.

Domestic violence is a public safety and public health issue, Flaherty said, and the loss of domestic violence shelters would result in critical problems.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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