In a 2018-19 draft budget unveiled last week, Santa Clara County officials proposed setting aside $5 million to help domestic violence survivors. That’s a 400 percent increase from the year prior.
Officials justified the spending increase because of an uptick in the number of reported domestic violence cases. The county fields about 20,000 calls a year to its domestic violence hotline, which doesn’t include 9-1-1 calls.
“The goal is to save lives, prevent homelessness and end violence,” County Executive Jeff Smith said in a news release. “The funds will be used to provide multiple services to survivors of intimate partner domestic violence such as housing, education, mental health services and childcare.”
The funding will expand services for victims, such as the 24-hour crisis hotline, legal counseling and housing assistance, according to the county.
In the 2014-15 fiscal year, the county offered 23,000 bed nights to domestic violence survivors. But a lack of resources left 2,000 survivors with no place to go. The very next fiscal year, the county provided 6,000 victims with services, including shelter for more than 700 adults and children to carry on their lives in a safe environment.
The Domestic Violence Death Review Team, a coalition that includes prosecutors and social workers, reported seven domestic violence-related deaths in 2016 and nearly twice that in 2017, with 13 deaths reported. Records show that the county counted a total of 178 domestic violence-related deaths between the years 2000 to 2016.
Partly in response to the uptick in domestic violence fatalities, the county founded the Intimate Partner Violence Blue Ribbon Task Force from 2016 to last year. The commission drummed a series of recommendations on how to improve violence prevention and intervention.
The proposed spending for domestic violence prevention and victim services would come from the county general fund with approval from the Board of Supervisors.