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There is no excuse to let victim assistance fund dry up

Elizabeth Abdur-Raheem
Elizabeth Abdur-Raheem

For many victim-survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence (and other violent crimes), direct assistance is the difference between life and death.

The Victims of Crime assistance (VOC) fund provides this money for things like mental health counseling, wage or income loss, and emergency shelter and relocation costs, to name a few of its benefits. Victims and their families can apply for this funding to assist in the emotional and financial aftermath of an assault.

Federal support has historically sustained VOC. However, because these funds are collected through fines and fees, not taxpayer dollars, this source is drying up, leaving states with less money than expected to keep these assistance programs solvent.

In a recent hearing, a $2.3 million VOC budget shortfall was noted. Neither the governor’s office nor the Division of Child and Family Services proposed a solution to fill the shortfall. They did state that with fewer dollars coming in from the federal government, this fund is likely to dry up by 2025.

Shortly after this hearing, the Nevada Economic Forum projected $251 million in additional revenue. With this projected increase, allowing the VOC fund to go broke is inexcusable.

During the budget differences reconciliation process, conflicting priorities are expected. Some agencies and policymakers are pushing for a rainy day savings of these monies, others are pushing for increased funding of services, and there is a large spotlight on the proposed A’s baseball stadium. None of these discussions should get off the ground without first addressing the critical funding gap for victims of crime.

As a state that routinely ranks among the worst in the country for domestic and sexual violence, our victims deserve better and should always take top priority. We look to our policymakers to utilize this record-breaking projected revenue to meet the needs of Nevadans and prioritize survivors as they have been an afterthought in our state for far too long.

Elizabeth Abdur-Raheem is the executive director of the Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence (previously The Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence), a statewide coalition of domestic and sexual violence programs. 


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