Public Comments on Victims of Crime Act Grant

St. Martha’s Hall received the same amount for the 2019 -2021 contract that they received for the 2017 -2019 contract. The same amount does not allow for the following:

  • Annual cost-of-living salary increases or increase in health insurance
  • Coverage of all personnel salary and benefits in the third funding period
  • Funds to cover the Multi-language Access Program (MAP) contract, which allows St. Martha’s to receive interpreters for women in shelter who do not speak English
  • Bus tickets for women so they able to have transportation to appointments, employment, interviews, childcare, school, et cetera
  • Emergency cell phones for residents when their cell phones are deemed unsafe
  • Funds to continue The Court Watch Project, a community-based initiative, led by St. Martha’s Hall that works within the court system to help improve court processes regarding Order of Protection hearings. Court Watch works to create a safe environment for victims by ensuring that offenders are held accountable and that court room procedures are always followed

The St. Louis region is underfunded in proportion of the poverty population in our area. According to the 2020 Missouri Poverty Report, St. Louis is the only urban location on the list of top 10 with the highest poverty rates. Thus, the need for an increase in VOCA funds was already felt before the global pandemic. St. Louis City/County was hit particularly hard by the pandemic. By early June, there were over 7500 confirmed cases and close to 700 deaths. We are all being told that we are safer at home but that is not the case for many. The widespread impacts of COVID exasperate our need for funding.

Lack of funding means that we might have to cut services to the community. Emergency shelter services are a critical first step for women and children fleeing domestic violence—it is the first step to gaining stability and ending the cycle of abuse. In 2019, we served 117 women and 152 children, which is higher than our usual averages of 100 women and 115 children. The community needs our services. The other agencies in the state, funded by VOCA, also need our services. We cannot do this work alone; all of these victim services agencies across the state allow victims of crime to access critical wraparound services. Please, we are asking you to restore us to adequate funding, so we can continue working to service victims of crime in our community.