Domestic violence budget cuts trouble advocates

CARMEL, Ind. (AP) — A central Indiana county’s decision to slash funding for domestic violence programs is raising alarm amid a sharp increase in the need for services.

The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners voted last week to cut $10,000 from the county’s domestic violence budget next year because there is no plan to build a shelter in the county, WTHR reported.

The decision came one day after Shannon Hall was fatally shot in Carmel in what police say was a murder-suicide involving her ex-husband, David Hall.

It also comes as the Domestic Violence Network reports a 34 percent increase in crisis calls in Hamilton County.

Jay Geshay, senior vice president of United Way of Central Indiana, said those numbers show why domestic violence is the No. 1 issue confronting the county.

“Of the top 10 counties, Hamilton County is the only county that does not have a domestic violence shelter,” Geshay said.

Hamilton County ranked fourth in the state in number of calls seeking residential services in 2011-2012. The number of people seeking non-residential services for domestic violence was second only to Marion County that year.

People in need of residential services who live in Hamilton County are referred to shelters in Anderson or Indianapolis, said Susan Ferguson, executive director at Prevail, a Noblesville nonprofit that provides services to victims of domestic violence and other crimes.

Ferguson told WISH-TV that the lack of a local shelter can make commuting to work or getting children to school difficult and can even deter people from seeking help.

“It just creates more obstacles in that situation and makes it a much more difficult decision to leave a dangerous situation,” she said.

The United Way and other community leaders say they want to see the county build a shelter with at least 30 beds, but Geshay noted that would cost $7 million to build and more to maintain.


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