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Colorado organizations that rely on federal funding worried about shutdown impacts

These Colorado organizations rely on millions of dollars in federal funding to help them serve survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.

DENVER — The government shutdown has now passed the two-week mark, leaving many organizations in Colorado that rely on federal funding worried.

Friday, several groups that get federal funding to help victims of sexual assault and domestic violence learned some federal funds are frozen.

“What happens in Washington impacts us on the ground every day, and it’s even more during a shutdown,” said Lydia Waligorski, the public policy director for Violence Free Colorado, a state coalition that works with people experiencing domestic violence.

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One of those federal funding sources is the Violence Against Women Act. According to the Department of Justice website, Colorado groups received $7.3 million from that source during the 2018 fiscal year.

There are other funding sources also affected by this shutdown, Waligorski said, naming the Victims of Crime Act Program as an example.

These organizations rely on millions of dollars in federal funding to help them serve survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. The groups do the work to help people in need, then bill the government for reimbursement funds.

Waligorski said the dollars help with police investigations, evidence collection, prosecutions of crimes and more.

“[These are] the services and funding that allows counselors in shelters, advocates in courtrooms to help people file protection orders, and does all of the things that people need to be able to do to get safe after experiencing domestic violence,” she said.

Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
The US Capitol is seen in Washington, DC, December 17, 2018, as the deadline for lawmakers to agree on a new spending deal to avert shutdown on Dec 22 approaches.

For now, Waligorski said the organizations will continue to offer services to people who need it, despite the shutdown and uncertainty ahead. She encourages anyone experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault to still seek help.

But the organizations have bills to pay, and most groups don’t have much in reserve, Waligorski said.

“Some programs have operating reserves and can go on for days and weeks after a shutdown; other programs to do not,” she explained.

“If you need services, the services will stay open. We will find a way to answer the hotlines, and, God-willing, we'll find a way to keep the shelter doors open.”

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