Government shutdown could affect shelters for victims of domestic violence

Published: Jan. 3, 2019 at 2:47 PM EST
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Sanctuary in Harrison, Arkansas is a non-profit organization that has provided shelter for victims of domestic violence since the 1980s.

Robert McCorkindale, the board president of Sanctuary, told WHSV's sister station, KY3, "Our federal funding runs 75 to 80 percent of our total cost of operation."

Sanctuary and many other shelters across the country get some of that funding through a grant program instated by the Stop Violence Against Women Act.

Scott Hardin, the spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, said, "It's a program that received significant funding: More than $13 million just over the last few years and that money is spread throughout the state to organizations and cities and counties. And those organizations and counties can take those funds and provide it to local shelters."

But if the shutdown continues, it means trouble.

Hardin said, "As of January 4, we were alerted Department of Justice employees may not be in place or won't be in place to process our payments. It means that we may not be able to get those funds to these local shelters because simply there's no access to it."

The funds will be there — just not reachable.

McCorkindale said, "If it continues to be a government shutdown, then that's a question of whether we can be reimbursed for our January expenditures. And I'm sure that's the way it is with a considerable number of other agencies as well."

Sanctuary does have some reserve funds thanks to this thrift shop and savings that they can dip into if the shutdown continues. But not all shelters have reserve funds.

McCorkindale said, "If it continues on to the middle of January, toward later January, we're going to have to sit down and figure out how to address the problem."

Hardin said the department came up with a plan for the short term.

He said, "We've asked these organizations: What do you expect your expenditures to be? Let us pull those funds and have them ready. We can do that for about 10 days out. So we think we're safe through about January 10th or 11th. However, if the shutdown goes past that then these shelters could be facing some serious issues."

The board president of Sanctuary said this issue has come up before, but the shutdown did not last long enough for them to have any serious problems. He's hoping that will be the case this time around.

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