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Gov’t shutdown is hurting domestic violence shelters

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Across the Tampa Bay area, officials are worried this government shutdown could put lives at risk.

That’s because domestic violence shelters are now losing out on vital federal funding.

In downtown Bradenton, HOPE Family Services runs a thrift shop. The proceeds help domestic violence victims, and very often, they give away essentials to survivors who need it most.

“We have people that come in here with bruises, and you can just tell that they’re afraid,” said store manager Dawn Simpson.

HOPE Family Services runs a shelter and provides numerous services to domestic violence victims. 

But half of the staff is paid through federal funds. During the shutdown, the nonprofit has dipped into its savings account. 

They’ve also put an end to overtime and cut back hours for part time workers.

If this shutdown continues on, many shelters statewide are in danger.

“If it goes on two months, 18 centers are going have to either close their doors or drastically reduce their services depending on where they are in Florida,” said CEO Laurel Lynch.

HOPE has enough savings to last for a couple of months but after that, they’ll have to cut services, like counseling.

“We really believe this is a matter of life and death. I mean, if this was six months from now and we were having this conversation, it might be very, very different,” said Lynch.

Just a few days ago, a Manatee County woman was killed in a murder-suicide after marital problems with her husband.

These services are vital. Lynch has a message for congress and the public.

“Could you move it along? ‘Cause I really think it will be figured out at some point, but when? And at what price? At what price to the people we serve and at what price to the people in our community that need help?” said Lynch.

Many agencies rely on donations to stay open. If you’re able to help, reach out to your nearest domestic violence shelter. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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