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GENEVA – Domestic violence providers gathered Thursday to send a message to Springfield – there’s nothing more local providers can do to make up for lost state funding.
Linda Moser, director of Safe Passage in DeKalb, said Thursday during a news conference in front of the Geneva courthouse, that the state owes the shelter $276,944. Because of that and cuts last year, the agency has had to do layoffs of staff.
“These are life-saving programs ... not a luxury,” she said of the programs offered by Safe Passage, which provides services to victims of domestic and sexual violence in DeKalb County.
Linda Healy, director of Mutual Ground in Aurora, explained how the domestic violence shelter and resource center has had multiple cuts in state funding in the past eight years – more than 20 percent – and worries there could be another cut in next year’s state budget. And they are owed $267,000 from the state for this year.
Healy and other providers said they aren’t sure how they’ll make it another month with additional cuts, coupled with the state money owed to them that they have yet to receive.
“There is money going into this state, but where is it?” she said. “There have been 70 domestic violence deaths since June. If we close our doors, those horrible numbers will certainly increase.”
Moster and Gretchen Vapnar, director of the Community Crisis Center in Elgin, echoed Healy’s concern Thursday.
Vapnar asked supporters to contact their legislators to urge them to “make a deal,” instead of “balance the budget on the backs [of the Department of Human Services].”
“We are not asking for a handout. We have a contract,” Vapnar said, who is owed between $200,000 and $250,000 from the state. “We have lived up to our agreement.”
Healy, Vapnar and Moser, who won’t have funds to pay bills as of June 1, said they’ve been told by state officials that they cannot close their doors due to no funding because they are under contract to provide services – a fact DHS officials confirmed Thursday.
Vapnar said she is asking DHS officials to advise her of a plan on how to continue operating.
DHS spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus said the department will work with local providers for other sources of funding, such as federal dollars.
“So we’re not leaving them in the lurch,” she said. Plus, DHS is asking the comptroller to pay bills to their providers, she said.
Sainvilus also said DHS officials expect funding levels next year to be the same as this year, according to current budget proposals before legislators.