NNEDV Applauds House Passage of HEROES Act
May 15, 2020
Urges Senate to Support Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence
Tonight, the House passed its next COVID-19-related relief package, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800), with a bipartisan vote of 208-199. The HEROES Act includes critical funding and policy improvements to help address survivors’ ongoing, urgent housing, economic, and other human needs during this pandemic. The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) urges the Senate’s bill to include and expand upon the vital provisions in the HEROES Act to address survivors’ vast needs.
“As the pandemic continues, victims of domestic and sexual violence urgently need help to escape violence and rebuild their lives. Domestic violence shelters and community-based programs are finding creative ways to offer refuge and provide a range of services – from online support groups to delivering food to survivors sheltering in hotels. But they need increased and flexible resources to keep survivors and their own staff safe. The HEROES Act is an essential part of the solution,” said Deborah J. Vagins, NNEDV President and CEO.
The HEROES Act would provide much-needed protections to help improve access to safety for survivors including:
- A fix to the rapidly decreasing federal Crime Victim Fund (CVF), which provides non-taxpayer dollars to victim service providers in every state. By expanding revenue sources, the CVF fix will help to keep the fund sustainable for the future.
- An additional $48 million for emergency shelter and services for survivors and their children through the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA).
- An additional $100 million for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs, including $15 million for transitional housing, and $1 billion in housing vouchers for people experiencing homelessness, including survivors.
- Policy solutions for immigrant survivors, such as access to stimulus payments for immigrants who pay taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), extension of immigration status or work authorization, and access to testing, treatment, and care.
- More funding for nutritional programs and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and significant improvements to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program for low-income survivors.
- Improvements to the employment and economic protections for workers passed in the CARES Act by amending the use of and ability to take paid sick and paid leave days. Changes include expanding caregiving and medical reasons for taking paid leave, increasing wage replacement maximum for family care purposes, and expanding family care definitions.
While the HEROES Act includes survivor-specific funds in VAWA and FVPSA, it is hundreds of millions of dollars less than what is needed for these programs. The funds needed for survivors’ housing stability, sexual assault services, and culturally specific programs are woefully inadequate for current needs. It also fails to specifically provide paid safe leave for survivors and access to unemployment insurance for survivors who have to leave their jobs due to domestic or sexual violence.
“Victims of domestic and sexual violence need help now. A final Senate package must include the life-saving provisions in the HEROES Act that improve protections for immigrant survivors, increase housing options, and sustain the Crime Victim Fund. We also urge the Senate to provide additional employment protections for survivors and substantially increase funding for the programs that serve them, including sexual assault services and culturally specific programs. Safety cannot wait. Survivors must be heard now,” said Vagins.
NNEDV urges the Senate bill to include and expand upon the HEROES Act’s provisions, which provide critical housing, economic, and human needs support for domestic violence survivors and the programs that serve them.