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The pilot program, a collaboration between the New York City mayor's office and a nonprofit service provider, will help survivors with housing and other emergency needs.
Victims of domestic and gender-based violence in New York City can receive money to help them move or pay for other expenses, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this month.
The financial relief program, a partnership between the mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence and nonprofit service provider Sanctuary for Families, will offer “microgrants” to survivors, who during the coronavirus pandemic might particularly feel they are unable to leave abusive situations. Values will be based on need, according to the mayor’s office.
"Home should be a safe place for everyone in our city and we will not accept any other reality, now or after this crisis,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We want any New Yorker experiencing violence at home to know that help is always available.”
The grants, paid for through the city’s donation-based Covid-19 emergency relief fund, will be administered through a network of service providers. Those providers can file for funds on behalf of survivors directly with Sanctuary for Families, a process that should allow nearly immediate access to the money.
Announcement of the pilot program comes as the New York Police Department reported a drop in the number of domestic-violence complaints and subsequent arrests. However, there has been an increase in the number of responses to 911 calls related to domestic violence.
“This troubling reality is likely caused by several factors: More calls are being made by neighbors overhearing loud noises that might not indicate abuse to the officer; the crime reported does not meet the threshold of an arrestable offense; or, most chilling and most likely, the abusive partner is present and intimidating the victim into saying, “Nevermind, nothing is wrong here,” Helen Rosenthal, head of the New York City Council’s Committee on Women and Gender Equity, wrote in an op-ed for the New York Daily News.
The grant money can help, Rosenthal said, by giving victims the financial support to leave or change their living situations while abiding by public health guidelines.
“Even more so during this pandemic, survivors and victims of domestic violence find themselves in need of logistical, financial and emotional support,” she said in a statement.“The microgrants that the city will be providing are a critical stepping stone for survivors, helping to make the first steps toward safety more possible."
Kate Elizabeth Queram is a staff correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.