By: Caroline Bleakley
LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The closure of government offices during the COVID-19 pandemic could also have a financial impact on agencies and organizations that support domestic violence and crime victims. There is an upcoming fundraiser to help those groups.
Among the offices closed was the Marriage License Bureau which would have normally issued thousands of licenses over the the time of the closure. When people pay for a license, 15% of that cost is earmarked for domestic violence and sexual assault organizations, according to a news release from Marsey’s Law for Nevada.
“COVID-19 has taken a toll on our health and welfare, and police agencies in various cities report it has also sparked a rise in domestic violence and calls for assistance. Now more than ever, our advocacy agencies need financial support to meet the demand, and yet, COVID could result in a loss of critical funds, which we fear could result with more victims,” said Marsy’s Law for Nevada Executive Director, Lynda Tache.
There are more than a dozen organizations that receive the funds in Clark County and the money is divided among them to help the more 40,000 victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Nevada, the news release said.
“On average, the ‘marriage license fund’ disperses $3.2 million annually to agencies like SafeNest for critical services such as rent, utilities, building repair and staffing costs,” said Liz Ortenburger, SafeNest CEO. “With domestic violence rates on the rise and increased demand for services during the COVID crisis, a reduction and/or loss of income from the marriage license fund will force agencies to cut operational costs leaving victims with fewer resources and support.
Organizations are asking elected leaders to step up and offer alternative funding sources to fill the gap.
FUNDRAISER ON JUNE 26
The Division of Child and Family Services and the Nevada Coalition to END Domestic and Sexual Violence are working together to bring awareness to the decrease in funding and on Friday, June 26, 2020, the “Say I Do” campaign asks individuals for donations to give back to local domestic service providers, due to the 87% decrease in marriage licenses.
“Nevada’s victim service providers work each and every day to help survivors find a path forward; they are facing increased need and reduced resources,” said Ross Armstrong Administrator of DCFS. “It is critical that we rise to this challenge, harness all the resources within our power, and act.