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Iowa organizations serving violent crime victims say federal cuts would leave thousands without services

These programs serve victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, rape, homicide, human trafficking, child abuse and stalking.

IOWA, USA — If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, call 1-800-770-1650 or text 'IOWAHELP' to 20121.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, so do the strains and barriers being placed on survivors of domestic and sexual violence. 

"There were less survivors actually seeking out services during 2020," said Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault Public Affairs Coordinator Matty Tate-Smith. "And so we're expecting a surge now."

But for agencies like Iowa CASA and the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, they are preparing to potentially serve a higher volume of clients with a drastic cut in funding.

"We are incredibly concerned," said Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence Director of Community Engagement Lindsay Pingel. "These cuts are catastrophic."

In a letter to Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa CASA, ICADV and the Iowa Coalition for Collective Change say a 35% cut to federal funding for state grants in the Victims of Crime Act equates to at least 28,000 fewer crime victims in Iowa receiving services in the next two years. 

From October of 2019 through September of 2020, this collection of programs delivered services to nearly 56,000 victims. In the letter, the collection of organizations requests Reynolds allocate $20 million from the American Rescue Plan to alleviate these cuts. 

"We know that the Governor has been supportive of survivors throughout her terms, so we're hoping that some of those funds coming in will help to alleviate that gap," Pingel said.

"I think it's a crisis for the community and a crisis for the state. Quite frankly, even $20 million isn't enough," Tate-Smith added.

The organizations say they have had one meeting with Reynolds's Office and are hopeful for a second sit-down. Local 5 reached out to the governor's office for a comment, but have not yet heard back.

Advocates are hopeful this funding will come to the rescue, allowing them the chance to reach thousands more Iowans.

"They've experienced one of the worst things that can possibly happen to them," said Tate-Smith ."And we owe it to survivors to then put in the money and the work to ensure that they have the best services available. We will always do the best with what we have but this will certainly make a difference for our victim service programs."

"Everyone deserves to be safe in their home, we believe that everyone feels that way," Pingel said. "But it's going to collectively take all of us to do that."

WATCH: Sen. Ernst discusses domestic violence amid COVID-19 

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