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Budget cuts force Lake County domestic violence center to cut services

safeplaceIt has been nearly two years since Illinois had a full budget. As a result, many human service providers have been forced to cut back on services and lay off staff. One organization that has been impacted is A Safe Place, a domestic violence support center in Zion that serves more than 15,000 individuals each year. 

Since it was founded in 1980, A Safe Place has grown into a $2.2 million agency with seven offices across Lake County. Services include emergency shelter, a 24-hour crisis line, legal advocacy, permanent housing, case management, individual and group therapy, mentoring programs, supervised family visitation and custody exchanges, and more.

“Until recently, A Safe Place served 16,000 individuals each year, but because domestic violence organizations were left out of the stopgap budget, last year we were only able to help 13,000 people,” said Pat Davenport, Executive Director of A Safe Place.

A Safe Place gets half of its funding from fundraising and the other half comes from the state. But because of the budget impasse, A Safe Place’s emergency shelter is operating at 75 percent capacity. For victims of domestic violence, being able to flee to a shelter could be the difference between life and death.

“In roughly 80 percent of domestic violence related murders, the victim had already left the abuser or was in the process of leaving,” Davenport said. “Due to the lack of state funding, our domestic violence shelter has been forced to turn away over 500 individuals who were fleeing for their lives, leaving them with limited options: return to the abuser or risk homelessness.”

A Safe Place depends on state funding to cover all payroll costs. As a result, they have been unable to fill open positions and have had to scale back their services.

“If we continue scaling back our services, it won’t just impact the thousands of domestic violence victims who rely on us, but it will also have a ripple effect across the community as other organizations would have to pick up where we left off,” Davenport said.

“When a victim of domestic violence flees, the last thing they should have to worry about is being turned away from a shelter. It’s inexcusable,” Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) said. “Governor Rauner’s budget crisis has had a devastating impact on countless Illinoisans. Not one more victim should be turned away from A Safe Place because the governor chooses to put politics before people.”

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