Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 179 community-based organizations, hospitals and law enforcement and government agencies across New York State will be awarded nearly $36.2 million in grants to fund programs that will provide direct services to crime victims. A total of 230 programs will offer assistance such as counseling and crisis intervention, advocacy and legal help to those in times of need across all 62 counties in New York.
When someone is the victim of a crime, they should have fast and easy access to services that help them recover, Governor Cuomo said. New York must remain a leader in providing support services to crime victims, and this funding will help us meet that goal by ensuring that there are programs available in every corner of the State.
The grants, administered by the Office of Victim Services (OVS), will allow OVS to expand its victims assistance network by funding 22 providers not currently funded by the agency. Those providers will receive grants allowing them to offer a total of 25 new programs, which will provide comprehensive services to victims of all types of crime and specialized services for victims of child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence, in addition to help for Native Americans and young black and Hispanic men between the ages of 16 and 24 two groups that often face barriers to getting help. The 22 newly-funded providers and programs will enhance services for victims in Bronx, Cayuga, Dutchess, Erie, Franklin, Kings, Monroe, New York, Onondaga, Ontario, Seneca, Suffolk, Sullivan Wayne, Washington, Westchester and Yates counties.
A complete list of the organizations and agencies that will share the nearly $36.2 million can be found here; the 22 newly funded providers are listed in bold.
Elizabeth Cronin, Director of OVS, said, It is of paramount importance for victims to easily access services in their time of need. These programs will offer a multitude of essential support services such as shelters, hotlines, transportation, counseling and advocacy that are vital to crime victims. We also have expanded our reach to assist two groups of people that have been underserved in the past: young men of color and Native Americans. No one should have to face the aftermath of a crime alone.
The 179 providers, which include non-profit, community-based organizations, government and law enforcement agencies and hospitals, will execute three-year contracts with OVS, with the option for one, two-year extension. The nearly $36.2 million announced today will fund the first year of those contracts; it is expected that approximately the same amount of federal and State funding will be available annually for the duration of those contracts. The funding cycle for the grants aligns with the federal budget year (Oct. 1 through Sept. 30).
Approximately 95 percent of the nearly $36.2 million available comes from the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Victim and Witness Assistance Grant Program and the States Criminal Justice Improvement Account, both of which are funded by fines, fees and surcharges that are paid by certain offenders convicted in federal or State courts. State funds comprise the remaining 5 percent.
The federal VOCA program required that 40 percent of the $36.2 million fund programs that serve the following priority groups: victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse, and victims of any other type of crime. For the first time, OVS dedicated funding (up to 2 percent of total available) for programs designed to serve young men of color between the ages of 16 and 24 and Native Americans.
When applying for funding, providers were asked to identify services that responded to the immediate needs of victims in the aftermath of crime and addressed gaps in services. These grants will fund personnel, such as crime victims advocates who help men, women, children and their families apply for financial compensation from OVS and assist them as their cases are handled by the criminal justice system, and services, including legal assistance, crisis counseling and emergency housing. Last year, crime victims assistance programs funded by OVS served nearly 256,000 people Statewide.
Ariel Zwang, CEO of Safe Horizon in New York City, said, Safe Horizon, the nations leading victim assistance organization, is deeply grateful to Governor Cuomo and the New York State Office of Victim Services for directing much-needed resources to programs such as ours that have a proven record of providing effective services to victims of crime and abuse. Over 36 years, Safe Horizon has developed nationally-recognized expertise in responding to victims of domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking and sexual assault, and this critical funding will help ensure that Safe Horizon can continue to move victims from crisis to confidence. We commend the Governor for his long-standing commitment to provide healing to New Yorkers impacted by crime.
Raini Baudendistel, Executive Director of the Crime Victims Assistance Center in Binghamton, said, These funds are critical to the effective and efficient provision of quality victim services across the State of New York; including 24-hour crisis response in Broome County. The Crime Victims Assistance Center responds to individuals, families, and the community as needs arise for victims of all types of crime including but not limited to sexual violence, child abuse, and domestic violence. These funds will assist the agency as we respond to growing needs of victims and their families, especially in ongoing cases of devastating homicide.
In addition to administering these grants, OVS provides direct financial compensation to innocent victims of crime and their families. In 2013, the agency provided more than $22.7 million in compensation that funded a range of assistance to crime victims and their families, including payment of medical and dental bills, funeral and moving expenses and compensation for lost wages and support.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, It is critical that we provide survivors of crimes with the support and safety they need. This important investment will put the resources we need on the ground to effectively communicate, counsel, and identify advocacy services for our communitys most vulnerable.
Congressman Charles B. Rangel said, I'm proud of the organizations in New York that are providing critical services to those who are vulnerable and in desperate need of assistance. Thanks to Governor Cuomo's efforts, this funding will go a long way towards healing the physical and psychological injuries of victims who shouldn't have to endure their trauma alone."
Congresswoman Nita Lowey said, It is the duty of any decent society to help victims of crime and abuse, especially children, who are particularly vulnerable and may not have the ability to protect or defend themselves. These funds to the Center for Safety and Change in Rockland and Hopes Door in Westchester provide important counseling and crisis intervention, advocacy, and legal assistance to those who have been victims of crimes through no fault of their own. As the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, I have fought for programs that provide support services to crime victims.
Congressman Eliot Engel? said, "Crime victims face a number of emotional, psychological and financial challenges that often go unaddressed. These federal and State grants will enable our communities to better respond to victims needs, and to better assist teens and young men from communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by crime, yet face additional hurdles when seeking help.
Congressman Jos E. Serrano said, Todays funding announcement is an important and comprehensive attempt to ensure assistance for victims of crime who would otherwise have nowhere else to turn. These grants will fund a wide variety of services in the Bronx and elsewhere, and will help all crime victims, including victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. These services are much needed in the Bronx, and I thank Governor Cuomo for his efforts to ensure that these federal and State funds help the many organizations doing this important work in our borough.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said, This critical assistance will expand needed services through new providers and programs across the State to ensure that victims get shelter, counseling, legal advocacy and other support they need to cope with the aftermath of traumatic events. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his commitment in assisting crime victims in New York. I will continue working to strengthen federal funding for grant programs like this. Our communities see a direct benefit.
Congressman Richard Hanna said, No community is immune to domestic violence, but we can help ensure that no person in Upstate New York is neglected. These grants will benefit our organizations that are on the front line to help those who are raped, battered or in desperate need of help. As a 30-year supporter of the YWCA, I have absolute confidence that these funds will be put to good use to aid victims at very critical times.
Congressman Jerrold Nadler said, These federal funds will go a long way toward addressing the needs of crime victims in New York. Unfortunately, crime disproportionally impacts some of the most underserved New Yorkers. The grants we are announcing today will go to projects that will serve those who need it most ranging from minority populations and victims of domestic violence to the LGBT community and seniors.???
Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy said, Our local not-for-profits, hospitals, law enforcement and government agencies sponsor important programs and services to individuals and families how have been victims of a crime. As a nurse, I understand the importance of services such as counseling and advocacy. I applaud Governor Cuomo for ensuring that New York State organizations receive their fair share of this funding, including 12 in the 4th Congressional District. This funding will help our local organizations fill in the gaps in human services that would not be filled otherwise.
Congressman Gregory Meeks said, "Assisting victims of crime, allowing them resources to rehabilitate and continue to serve as productive members of our communities, is one of our greatest responsibilities. I thank the Governor for his strong commitment to providing the necessary means for community-based organizations, like Jamaica Service Program for Older Adults, law enforcement agencies, and hospitals across the State to aid those who have been victimized. I applaud Jamaica Service Program for Older Adults for their continued great service to our community and I am inspired by the important work they do every day."
Congressman Joe Crowley said, Unfortunately, as long as there is crime on the streets, there will be victims who need help from organizations like Crime Victims Support Services in the Bronx and the Korean American Family Service Center in Queens. These organizations provide the help crime victims and their families need during difficult times times when it can feel like all hope is lost. This funding will go a long way in ensuring these vital organizations have the resources they need to do what they do best: help people."
Congressman Tim Bishop said, These grants represent the good that can come from public-private partnership. By utilizing the funding they will provide support and assistance to victims of domestic violence, alcohol-related traffic accidents and other crimes. This is a win not only for these organizations and the individual victims they work with, but for our community as a whole.
Congressman Brian Higgins said, Assistance from the Office of Victims Services is a needed lifeline for so many victims of serious crimes. It is reassuring that so many organizations in Erie and Niagara Counties will benefit from this funding and be better able to provide help and resources to victims in underserved communities, in addition to victims of child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence.
Congressman Bill Owens said, Community-based victims assistance programs provide an essential community service ensuring that our friends and neighbors can get the support they need to recover from violence and tragedy. I applaud the Governors decision to provide this funding and support.
Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke said, I want to commend these valuable organizations, which assist people in a time of serious need, and which will now receive state and federal support for their initiatives. In addition, I thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to focus on crime victims who have in many instances been unable to access these critical services young men of color.
Congressman Paul D. Tonko said, I am pleased to see this support for victims services in the Capital Region and throughout the entire State. When we strengthen our communities in this way, we increase the quality of life for everybody. I appreciate the work of Governor Cuomos office to identify a growing issue and extend a critical safety net to vulnerable populations in our neighborhoods.
Congressman Chris Gibson said, As a strong supporter of our local law enforcement and social services providers, I appreciate the states commitment to funding these vital programs. I am proud to advocate for the Violence Against Women Act and the Violence Prevention and Services Act, both of which provide crucial assistance to crime victims in Upstate New York. I will continue to push for robust funding of these programs and their continued authorization in Congress.
Congressman Michael Grimm said, I applaud the Governor for utilizing the Federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) to its fullest and maximizing the benefits that my constituents in Staten Island and Brooklyn will reap from this funding. Although the 11th Congressional District thankfully has relatively low crime compared to other districts, we certainly utilize many of the programs that provide much-needed assistance to victims of crimes every day and these grants will significantly strengthen those services.
Congressman Tom Reed said, Every victim is unique, but they all have the same need for care and support from their communities. From sexual assault and domestic violence victims to child abuse and human trafficking victims, these programs and services will give victims the care and attention they need. All New Yorkers are better served by these programs that are uniquely tailored to each victim. Making sure victims have access to these services is essential and a worthwhile task for lawmakers at every level. ?
Congressman Dan Maffei said, These grants will provide critical resources to our local organizations in Central New York who work to ensure that all survivors of abuse and violence can receive the care, counseling, and advocacy they need and deserve. Our community-based advocates and law-enforcement officials play an essential role in helping survivors and their families, and this support will help them continue their work to serve Central New York.
Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney said, It is a sickening, sad reality that thousands of our friends and neighbors in the Hudson Valley are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault every year. These essential and basic resources are critical to ensuring no woman, child or victim suffers in silence."
About the New York State Office of Victim Services
OVS provides a safety net for individuals and/or their family members who have been victimized through no fault of their own and have no other means of assistance. It is a payer of last resort: all other sources of assistance, such as medical or automobile insurance and workers compensation, must be exhausted before the agency can pay a victim or their family members for any out-of-pocket losses related to the crime.
Funding for crime victims compensation and the cost of the agencys day-to-day operations also comes entirely from the fines, mandatory surcharges and crime victim assistance fees paid by offenders, not taxpayer dollars. For more information about services offered by OVS, including eligibility guidelines and a list of crime victims assistance programs that currently receive funding, visit www.ovs.ny.gov or call 1-800-247-8035.