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NNEDV Applauds Signing of the American Rescue Plan

March 11, 2021

As ARP survivor-centered policies become law, VAWA and VOCA survivor protections also introduced

Today, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) celebrates President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. signing the American Rescue Plan (ARP). This law provides life-saving, survivor-centered supplemental funds, which will meet domestic violence and sexual assault survivors’ urgent needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, advocates also welcomed the introduction of the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2021 (H.R. 1620), which will address many of the structural issues survivors face, laid bare by the pandemic. Additionally, a bipartisan, bicameral fix to the Victims of Crime Act fund (VOCA) (S. 611 and H.R. 1652), introduced last week, advances access to the long-term funding the field needs to provide safety and stability for survivors. 

“A year into the pandemic, many survivors are navigating more severe abuse with fewer resources,” said Deborah J. Vagins, NNEDV President and CEO. “During the pandemic, domestic violence programs have stayed open, pivoting and working tirelessly to respond to survivors’ needs. They are doing so, however, with shrinking funds in high-stress environments. The American Rescue Plan will provide a much-needed cash infusion to programs that are sheltering and supporting survivors and their children.”

The ARP provides:

  • $180 million in Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) funds for desperately-needed emergency shelter, housing, and other emergency supports in every state and territory.
  • $18 million for tribes to support domestic violence survivors as they face the disparate impacts of COVID-19.
  • $50 million for culturally specific services for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors in order to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color.
  • $198 million for rape crisis centers, the first federal relief funding targeted specifically to respond to sexual violence.
  • $1 million each for the National Domestic Violence Hotline and StrongHearts Native Helpline, both crucial lifelines during the COVID-19 crisis.

Survivors are also eligible for help via $10 billion in housing vouchers and homelessness resources. Immigrant survivors—who were excluded from accessing economic supports in the previous COVID-19 packages—are now eligible for stimulus checks, tax credits, and other supports.

NNEDV worked closely with Members of Congress on the domestic violence resources in the ARP. We are incredibly grateful to Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) for their leadership in securing these resources, and to Senators Shaheen (D-NH), Murkowski (R-AK), Coons (D-DE), Moran (R-KS), and Klobuchar (D-MN) for their efforts to secure additional resources.

While the ARP addresses the dual crises of domestic violence and the pandemic, separately, VAWA reauthorization and a fix to how deposits are made into the VOCA fund are necessary to improve system-wide responses and eliminate barriers to safety and justice for all survivors. VAWA addresses many of the inequalities exposed by the pandemic by providing targeted resources to Communities of Color; creating additional pathways to justice beyond criminal responses; improving economic protections; providing safe, affordable housing options; and restoring tribal jurisdiction so tribes can hold non-native perpetrators accountable.  The VOCA fix will help restore funding to the Crime Victims Fund, a critical source of funding for survivors who need housing, shelter, counseling, legal assistance, and more.

“This has been an historic week for survivors and this is just the beginning.  Today, we celebrate the greatly needed resources in the ARP, and look forward to what we hope will be swift passage of VAWA and a VOCA fix so that we can meet both the immediate and the long-term needs of survivors.”