NY City Council Eliminates Sexual Violence Funding!

From the NYCity Alliance Against Sexual Assault Blog

Outpouring of support
June 30, 2010, 5:15 pm — Saskia

Thanks to the Safer blog and Sarah for this amazingly written and overall great article about the recent City Council budget cuts:
That was the title of the shocking and extremely distressing email I received this morning from the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault. Yesterday the NY City Council passed the FY2011 city budget, which completely cuts the Sexual Assault Services Initiative funding that the Council has been allocating since 2005. To put this in perspective, NYC has a $63.1 billion budget. For the past two years, $332,500 of that has gone toward sexual assault services, with another $100,000 in discretionary funding going to the Alliance for “preventing sexual violence and ensuring access to best care for all survivors.” As the Alliance email points out, that’s .001% of the total budget.
What does that mean for NYC? Besides the $275,000 loss for the NYC Alliance—which makes up one-third of their entire budget—funding was also cut for three rape crisis programs. In FY2010 the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center in the Bronx, Mt. Sinai Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Program in Queens, and St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Intervention program in Manhattan each received $52,500 for providing sexual assault services. In FY2011 they will receive nothing.
This is an incredible loss for New York City. Yesterday an editorial in the NY Times praised the city for running the budget process quickly and quietly, despite the fact that the city faced $5 billion budget gap (which was dealt with by “cutting most services.”) The author mentions that some public services (all important ones as well, I might add) were saved, prompting Mayor Bloomberg to declare of the cuts: “pain, yes, serious damage, no.”
I’d have to disagree with the mayor. In a city where in one year the police department received 890 reports of 1st degree rape; 944 arrests were made for 1st-3rd degree rape; and 1,933 arrests were made for other sexual offenses; and where one in six public high school students say they’ve experienced sexual violence, I’d say that cutting funding for sexual assault prevention and crisis services does indeed do some serious damage.
Right now, the Alliance (who has been receiving city council funding for nine years) is asking for donations to their emergency fund and preparing a conference call with NYC rape crisis centers and other folks in the SV field to brainstorm around a collaborative community response to this incredibly sad and disappointing decision.  Because this is a community issue—we all have someone in our lives who has been impacted by sexual violence, and should be committed to providing our loved ones and neighbors with support and resources. And in order to decrease the amount of sexual violence in our communities, we need prevention and education programming. Please consider making a donation to the Alliance here, or sending one to:
Emergency Fund
New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault
27 Christopher Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY  10014
The Alliance has a lot of great programming which I encourage you to check out. But as they wrote this morning:

“Without this funding for the Alliance, efforts to ensure sensitive, culturally competent treatment of victims, community-based programming for prevention, and research that identifies the determinants of sexual violence as well as opportunities for prevention will be severely curtailed.

You can also contact your council member to let them know how you feel about this tremendous loss. I’ll keep you posted in the coming days if any further action is planned.

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