Supervisor John Avalos and San Francisco mothers came together to ask Mayor Gavin Newsom for a special kind of Mother’s Day present: Stop the impending cuts to programs serving victims of domestic violence and their families.
About 40 people — mostly members and clients of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium — gathered on the steps of City Hall Tuesday to share their stories of abuse and recovery to show how the proposed 25.3 percent cut to programs would be detrimental to thousands of women in San Francisco.
“Families are under a lot of stress and we know that domestic violence rises when our economy is suffering,” said Avalos, who is also the chair of the Board of Supervisors’ budget and finance committee. “I really look forward to the day we don’t have to talk about preventing cuts. We can talk about how we’re coming out — we have funding to do the innovative programs, the innovative approaches that will help do the better prevention work that we know all of us are capable of doing.”
Avalos gave the example of how 10 years ago, the homicide rate linked to domestic violence was about 10 homicides a year, and it is now at two homicides a year.
Supervisor David Chiu, president of the Board of Supervisors, followed suit, thanking the agencies for the “myriad of services they provide in this city of St. Francis.”
“I very rarely appear at an event like this because it’s actually very difficult with a half a billion dollars in budget cuts that we’re facing this year to be able to look all of you in the eye and say that we will vote consistently against any types of cuts,” Chiu said. “But I think when it comes to these specific cuts to protect our women, to protect children, to protect our families, I am very comfortable standing here with you saying this is something that we have to do.”
The mayor is instructing the Department on the Status of Women to reduce their budget by $654,810, plus up to a 10 percent contingency for a total of $982,314, according to a statement from Avalos’ office.
But to meet these demands, cuts would be as follows:
- 25.3 percent cut to Violence Against Women Prevention and Intervention (VAW) Grants
- Additional 4.7 cut to emergency shelter and transitional housing
- Additional 16 percent cuts to all other programs
Of the 34 programs facing cuts in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, 14 are based in the Mission:
Asian Women’s Shelter: Domestic Violence Shelter Services (Shelter)
Bar Association of San Francisco VLSP: Cooperative Restraining Order Clinic (Legal)
Community United Against Violence: LBT Prevention and Education Services (Prevention)
Horizons Unlimited of San Francisco, Inc.: Females Against Violence Peer Leadership (Prevention)
Mission Neighborhood Centers, Inc.: RAICES (Prevention)
Mujeres Unidas y Activas: Sanando el Alma (Intervention)
- Sexual Assault Prevention Education (Prevention)
- STAND (Prevention)
- Sexual Assault Crisis Line (Crisis Line)
- Sexual Assault Intervention and Advocacy (Intervention)
- Brennan House (Housing)
- Rosalie House (Shelter)
- Therapy and Latina Case Management Program (Intervention)
- Crisis Line Program (Crisis Line)
What would these cuts really mean? For Maria Chavez, director of the Riley Center on 18th Street, it means that their 26 staff members “won’t be able to work as effectively with families so less families will be served.”
“We can talk about the numbers and we can talk about the financial aspect, which I think is a really important thing — San Francisco is suffering — but we’re talking about the dollars that would be lost today,” Chavez said. “We’re not talking about the dollars that would be lost year after year after year as we see more and more generations dealing with domestic violence in their lives.”