How VOCA funding will support survivors of violent crimes in Chicago area

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CHICAGO — The federal government is funneling more money into the crime victim’s fund.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin sponsored the bipartisan legislation that prevents future cuts to advocacy groups. The funding prevents a reduction in services or even the closing of their doors. Instead, federal dollars, from fines and penalties collected from those convicted of crimes will be used to help survivors.

President Biden signed the VOCA Fix Thursday in Washington and it will have an impact in Chicago.

For instance, the Illinois Domestic Violence hotline wouldn’t be in operation without this funding.  

Amanda Pyron is the executive director.

“When we receive one of over 28,000 calls and texts a year, we have to provide that survivor not only with on the phone safety planning but also with a connection to crisis housing,” she said.  

Last year that number nearly doubled. The network, which operates the Illinois domestic violence hotline, served more than 47,000 people. 

“Certainly during the pandemic, having the hotline was absolutely an essential service,” Pyron said. “We responded to over 2600% increase in text messages because survivors were having to text.

Durbin toured the network that operates the hotline Friday.

“Its money well spent to make America a safer place and to deal with this issue on a personal basis,” he said.  

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The staff arranges any services survivors need, from counseling to shelter, and it is all paid for by VOCA funding. 

“VOCA funding provides counseling services, legal services, shelter all across the Chicagoland region and across the state of Illinois,”  Pyron said. ‘We were so worried when the fix wasn’t passed earlier in the year and our services were threatened, our hotline was threatened and the places where we refer clients to were under attack.”  

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