Domestic violence shelter able to do structural repairs with new money

A year ago, AVENUES — a Northeast Missouri resource for those physically and sexually abused — faced a financial nightmare.

The Hannibal-based nonprofit that provides temporary housing and counseling for victims of domestic abuse in seven northeast Missouri counties faced the loss of more than 10 percent of its funding — more than $61,000 from the Missouri State Services.

Loss of the grant forced Judy Edmonson, executive director, to look at service and budget cuts for the organization to survive.

But thanks to a grant from the federal Victims for Crime Act Fund (VOCA), the organization has staved off the budget crisis and is looking to make long-overdue repairs crumbling the facilities.

The grant is for nearly $800,000 over a number of years.

“We were able to secure additional VOCA funding to make up for the lost SSVF funding. VOCA is a federal grant and SSVF was a State Funded grant,” Edmondson said. “Over the past few years, advocacy work has been happening at the Federal level to get the Federal government to release more VOCA funds. For the last two VOCA grant cycles, additional monies were made available for programs working with crime  victims to access through a competitive grant application process. Access to this additional funding has allowed programs such as AVENUES to make improvements, add programs and make much needed and significant changes within our programs.“

“We are able to makes upgrades to our facility — which includes new windows — and the grant covers salaries of staff who would have not been funded because of the loss of the state grant,” Edmondson said.

AVENUES also receives support from the United Way of the Mark Twain Area.

The state grant, meanwhile, will likely not materialize again. The State Service to Victims fund is collected by the Missouri Administrator of Courts and administered by Department of Public Safety, which said in 2017 that the program was running out of money.

Funding for the State Services to Victims Fund is provided through a $7.50 court cost assessed in any court in the state (including juvenile court) for violation of a criminal law of the state, including an infraction and violation of a municipal or county ordinance. The $7.50 court cost assessment also funds an annual appropriation for state forensic laboratories, the Missouri Office for Victims of Crime and the maintenance of a victim notification system (MoVANS – Missouri Victim Automated Notification System). Last in line for the money are the Crime Victims’ Compensation fund and the Services to Victims Fund, which have received equal shares of the balance.