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Funding & Appropriations

Together, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Fund, and related programs create and support comprehensive responses to the needs of victims of domestic violence.

Federal funding for VAWA, VOCA, and FVPSA has enhanced federal, tribal, state and local responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking, and supported lifesaving emergency shelters and services for domestic violence victims and other crime victims.

FVPSA, VOCA and VAWA funding support domestic violence shelters, law enforcement, courts, rape crisis centers, children’s services, prevention, community outreach, and other state and local programs that provide services for victims and families. These programs have made significant progress towards ending domestic and sexual violence. In addition to saving lives, VAWA, FVPSA, and VOCA save money by reducing future violence and other related social costs.

Current Updates on Federal Funding

Desperate Need Remains

Despite this progress, shelters and other domestic and sexual violence service providers continue to face budget shortfalls. At the same time, the national spotlight on these crimes is bringing more survivors out of the shadows and increasing requests for prevention programs, which create an increased demand. Many programs are forced to turn away victims who are desperate and have nowhere to go. NNEDV’s Annual Domestic Violence Counts Report finds that, in just one day each year, tens of thousands of adults and children receive desperately needed services from local domestic violence programs. Tragically, thousands more are turned away because programs simply do not have the resources to meet their needs.

In 2017, domestic violence programs funded by FVPSA provided shelter and nonresidential services to approximately 1 million victims. However, due to lack of capacity, and additional 226,000 requests for shelter went unmet.

Appropriations Priorities

FVPSA: FVPSA funds emergency shelters, crisis lines, counseling, victim assistance, and other vital services for over 1.3 million domestic violence victims and their children each year. FVPSA funding has remained relatively stagnant, resulting in inadequate services available for victims in need. As the only dedicated federal funding source for domestic violence services, FVPSA must be funded at its full authorization. In addition to the shelter and supportive services funded by FVPSA, communities need resources to advance prevention efforts—to stop violence before it starts. The DELTA prevention grants administered by the CDC are helping communities invest in tested prevention strategies. (Learn more from the CDC here.)

VOCA: VOCA uses non-taxpayer money from the Crime Victims Fund for programs that directly service victims of crime, including state formula victim assistance grants. These funds, which come from fines paid by federal criminals, support services to 4 million victims of all types of crimes annually, through 4,400 direct service agencies such as domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and child abuse treatment programs. VOCA should be released at a funding level of at least the average of the last three years’ deposits with a tribal funding stream to address the devastating needs on tribal lands.

VAWA: VAWA programs are at the heart of our nation’s response to domestic violence. Each of these programs is critical to ensuring that victims are safe, that offenders are held accountable, and that our communities are more secure. Key programs within VAWA include:

  • The Services, Training, Officers and Prosecutors (STOP) state formula grant program supports coordinated community responses to domestic and sexual violence, as well as specialized services.
  • The Civil Legal Assistance for Victims (LAV) program addresses the civil legal needs of victims. It provides practical solutions and long-term stability for victims and their children, and helps to lower incidents of domestic violence.
  • The Services for Rural Victims grant program enables communities to develop services to meet the unique needs of victims in rural areas.
  • The Transitional Housing grant program provides an essential continuum between emergency shelter and permanent safe housing for survivors fleeing violence.
  • The Improving Criminal Justice Response program increases offender accountability and reduces homicide.
  • The Sexual Assault Services Program state formula grant program funds rape crisis centers and services.

Domestic Violence Housing Program at HUD  

Domestic violence is consistently identified as a significant factor in homelessness. A staggering 92% of women experiencing homelessness report having experienced severe physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives, and upwards of 50% of all homeless women report that domestic violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness. Advocates and survivors identify housing as a primary need of survivors and a critical component in survivors’ long-term safety and stability. Although safe housing can give a survivor a pathway to freedom, there are many barriers that prevent survivors from maintaining or obtaining safe and affordable housing. Many survivors face the impossible choice between staying with or returning to their abusers or becoming homeless because they cannot find or afford safe, long-term, permanent housing.

Dedicated funds for survivor-specific housing allow victim service providers ensure that survivors can rebuild their lives after abuse. An ongoing set-aside in the HUD Continuum of Care (CoC) homelessness assistance program is essential to create housing options for survivors of domestic violence.

Legislative Action

Congress considers funding for VAWA, FVPSA, VOCA, and related programs each year when they “appropriate” dollars to these programs in the Congressional Budget.