An Open Letter to Policymakers from Coburn Place to Support VOCA

Feb. 8, 2024

For Coburn Place in Indianapolis, VOCA funding is critical to supporting the work we do every day with survivors of domestic violence. The Victims of Crime Act is federal grant funding administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. VOCA provides funding to support victims of crime in Indiana through various services and programs including victim advocacy, counseling and therapy, legal assistance, emergency shelter, and more.

VOCA is one of our top five funding sources, covering salary and benefits expenses for 16 staff members and paying for more than 15% of all salaries at the organization each year. VOCA funding covers our care specialists, who handle our front desk and phone calls; a large majority of our well-being advocates, who work closely with survivors on their goals; our volunteer and resources coordinator; and other key program leadership positions. Any reduction in funding would have immediate and consequential impacts on Coburn Place’s fiscal ability to support mission-critical staff.

Coburn Place served 299 people in 2023 – 139 adults and 160 children who need safe housing choices and compassionate support from advocates.

Last year, VOCA-funded staff provided significant, meaningful support to these survivors, and any funding cuts would have drastic implications – not only for staff but for the people we serve and the services we offer.

A 40% funding cut for 2024 means our VOCA-funded staff would serve 103 fewer survivors and families, conduct nearly 800 fewer well-being case management sessions, and would not be able to conduct 133 housing case management sessions, which ensure survivors have access to safe and stable housing options. Lastly, we would make 35 fewer referrals to mental health providers and 186 fewer referrals to outside community resources and partners that provide much-needed support to survivors on the road to creating their own fresh starts.

A cut in VOCA funding means we won’t see success stories like Diamond, who moved from our transitional housing to a home she purchased on her own. Or Kelly and her children, who rely on mental health services to heal from the trauma they experienced and legal services to navigate her abuser’s prosecution. Or Athena, who is on a new, safe path after seven years of stalking. Or Mary, who left her abuser so her son could have a better life – one without domestic violence and with all the joys of childhood. All these survivors are supported with compassion by Coburn Place staff, many of whose salaries are funded by VOCA.

Like countless other communities around the country, Indianapolis cannot afford to let even a single survivor go without the support they need during a critical time of transition and healing. A fully funded VOCA program helps make their fresh starts possible.