Many shelters have been forced to send people away due to overflow
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 11/09/2012 -- Too often Oregonians in need of shelter are turned away with the classic line, “I’m sorry, we can’t help. Shelters are full.”
This unfortunate occurrence is not the fault of the people or those running the shelter, but rather reflects an injustice in the way Oregon spends its public safety money. The fact is over 20,000 people were turned away from shelters last year.
As the Executive Director of the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, it is my honor to help work for domestic and sexual violence survivors and advocate for better state and system responses for those in need.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a great chance for our state to enhance their seriousness and renew our dedication to fighting for the needs of the people.
Over 100 state citizens were killed due to domestic violence related incidents since the start of 2009. An estimated 10% of these victims were children. Those victims who escaped with their lives are in the thousands and are in need of help as they search for shelter and a new start.
The domestic and sexual violence programs that do exist throughout Oregon offer lifelines to adult survivors and their children. These programs offer support, shelter, safety, planning, counseling, medical accompaniment, and useful information for those who seek it. While many Oregonians have taken advantage of the programs in order to get away from the violence and degradation that they have experienced in their own lives, but there is still a serious need for emergency shelter for victims in Oregon.
Many victims and their children are forced to sleep in their cars, on the street, or in public places because they have nowhere to go and shelters are full. A lot of times the victims have no choice but to stay in the violent situation they are in for the sake of their children, which can ultimately lead to their death.
We as a state must look at ourselves and the way we handle our public safety money. Oregon has an out-of-date system that must be looked at closely for the sake of our citizens.
The budget of The Department of Corrections uses over half of Oregon’s total public safety money, which needs to be reexamined. Legislators must take action to rebalance public safety spending. As of now, Oregon will add 2,000 new prison beds over the next 10 years for majority nonviolent criminals, which will further hurt the budget in terms of shelter spending.
I hope that the state will change their priorities from adding prison beds, to adding shelter beds for those victims of domestic and sexual abuse who truly need help.
Oregon needs to take action and use our tax dollars in a better way. We need more shelter beds, not more prison beds.
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