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Hayward proposes funding cuts to domestic violence services

Tia L. Wilson,
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A second round of funding cuts could be coming for some local Hayward organizations.

The Hayward Community Services Commission proposed a 25 percent funding cut to community organizations dedicated to serving survivors of domestic violence during the Hayward City Council meeting on April 3.

Ruby’s Place, a shelter for survivors of domestic violence and the Family Violence Law Center (FVLC), which provides legal services for survivors of domestic violence, are both proposed to receive a 25 percent cut in funding from the city in the upcoming fiscal year. Both organizations have served Alameda County for the last 40 years and managers representing each decried the cut and the impact it would have on their services.

“They cannot go without any of these items [food or clothes], we have to make it work, we struggle, but client needs come first,” Ruby’s Place executive manager Vera Ciammetti said. “We go without other things, but never client needs or services. We ask, we receive donations, we cut from one place to fund another – it’s a daily juggling act, managing a reduced budget. It’s what non profits do best, but it’s certainly not ideal.”

Stephanie Penrod, the managing attorney at the FVLC, said, “This year the Family Violence Law Center was recommended for $30,000, that represents a 25 percent decrease from last year and a 50 percent decrease over the last couple of years. Domestic violence in Hayward has not decreased by 50 percent and certainly homelessness, which is often a direct result of domestic violence is not a declining problem in the society and in this community.”

Penrod also claimed that the funding cut jeopardizes the FVLC’s ability to maintain their services in Hayward, which include a clinic in the Hayward courthouse and referrals from the Hayward Self Help Center and Volunteer Legal Services, which they provided services to 162 Hayward residents last year.

Meanwhile, Ruby’s Place provides shelter and support services to families experiencing domestic violence and human trafficking. Their shelters house 48 people and according to their Ciammetti are, “always full.”

Community agency funding in Hayward is decided by the Community Services Commission who review applications for funding from community organizations and provide it based on criteria like the importance of the service provided and the community need for it.

According to commission vice chair Julie Roche, this year’s commission’s goal was “to be fair,” so they decided to partially fund any organization’s staffing request in order to meet the large quantity of applications and both the FVLC and Ruby’s Place requested for staffing their facilities. The FVLC also requested funding for the clinic services provided, which is expected to be funded in full once the budget is approved.

Despite the proposed cuts, domestic violence and the homelessness that may come with it remain priorities for the Hayward City Council. According to Hayward councilwoman Sara Lamnin, “It’s certainly not less of priority, in fact the council’s been pretty clear that housing and homelessness is a top priority for us to address in this community. One of the challenges we have is that not all of the funding can be spent on services.”

The proposed cuts were expected to be adopted by the city council on April 17.

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