Shelter House in Fort Walton Beach is facing negative impacts of the government shutdown. The services the non-profit provides for domestic violence survivors and their children depends on a combination of private, state and federal funding.
According to a recent press release, contracts for Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding, a source that provides nearly 40% of funding for victim services at Shelter House, are reimbursable. The agencies receiving these funds front the money to provide services and are then reimbursed by the Office of the Attorney General. Prior to the shutdown these funds were already slow to be recouped, and Shelter House had not been reimbursed since October for funds expended for victims services.
“What people may not realize is this truly is a matter of life and death – so many of the survivors coming through our doors are in imminent danger and come to us with nothing. If we are forced to keep cutting back on services, victims will have nowhere to go.”Rosalyn Wik, Executive Director of Shelter House
In an effort to keep the center’s most critical services operating, Shelter House has been operating with minimum staff, suspending all supply purchases and cut back on contracted services such as licensed mental health therapy for adult survivors. If the availability of federal funding is not quickly restored, in a matter of weeks the agency has said they may have to consider program office closures, additional staffing reductions or liquidating assets just to maintain its most critical core services.
Shelter House has started a fundraising campaign to keep critical services available to survivors in Okaloosa and Walton counties. Community members and supporters can contribute by visiting this donation link or contacting the main program office at 850-243-1201.