For a victim of domestic violence, it is also a perfect storm. Financial strain on a relationship increases the risk of domestic violence. For victims, domestic violence may cause even more financial problems that entrap them in poverty, violence and abuse. When the economy puts victims at further risk, calls to domestic violence agencies rise. A budget cut that completely eliminates state funding to domestic violence agencies is therefore a devastating blow, a slap in the face, and an abusive manipulation of resources.

Next Door and other domestic violence agencies in Santa Clara County responded immediately to the governor’s budget cuts to domestic violence agencies with a press conference. On August 5, 2009, Next Door’s Executive Director, Kathleen Krenek, spoke out against the budget cuts along with other community leaders, domestic violence agency directors and State Senator Leland Yee who put forth a bill that would restore funding to domestic violence agencies. That bill was at first voted down, but then after 6 domestic violence agencies folded, funding was restored, but only for the moment and not in full.

While unemployment and the recession make it incredibly difficult for a low-income victim to leave violence, once she does, she is met with the possibility that there may be no services available to her due to budget cuts from the governor’s office. The rise in domestic violence is met with a decrease in services due to a decrease in funding. This causes a dire public health and safety predicament for our community. Without funding for domestic violence agencies, women and their children seeking help may have two options: homelessness or living with violence and abuse.

Without help, a victim and her children would have nowhere to turn were it not for Next Door, its Emergency Shelter, Transitional Housing and supportive services that help her find safe, affordable permanent housing and suitable employment. Next Door’s Emergency Shelter provides comprehensive services that distinguish itself from other shelters in the county. Always open and non-restrictive, Next Door’s 24-hour Emergency Shelter helps victims and their children stay together by allowing boys up to age 18 to reside with their moms and accepts women regardless of their immigration status, substance abuse issues, or experience with mental health problems. Next Door also provides men impacted by domestic violence with motel vouchers and access to all of Next Door’s services, including one of the only men’s support groups in the county.

Beyond crisis counseling, safety planning, case management, support group, and children and youth programs, Next Door’s supportive services also include housing assistance that helps women and children find safe, affordable housing. Next Door also connects them to employment services, including the One-Stop Employment Center, where Next Door has recently placed an on-call domestic violence advocate.