September 26, 2014

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce Nearly $1.5 Million In Anti-Human Trafficking & Anti-Domestic Violence Funds For Organizations In Westchester County

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced $1,489,933 in federal funding for two Westchester County organizations, My Sister's Place and Westchester Hispanic Coalition. The funding was allocated through the Office for Victims of Human Trafficking (OVC). My Sister's Place will use its $999,509 in federal funds to provide human trafficking victims with the comprehensive and timely services they need to recover and lead stable lives. Specifically, $499,509 of the funds will provide specialized education and skills-building professional development to service providers such as law enforcement and faith based organizations. This will better enable service providers to identify, assess, investigate, and refer human trafficking victims, by increasing the number of collaborative partners that work on behalf of human trafficking victims in Westchester County. Ultimately, the funding will assist My Sister's Place and partnering agencies in improving their service delivery options and outreach efforts. The remaining $500,000 will be used to provide legal support services for those impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault. The program is designed to strengthen civil and criminal legal assistance programs for adult and youth victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking who are seeking relief in legal matters arising as a consequence of that abuse or violence. The Westchester Hispanic Coalition will use its $490,424 in funding to continue providing victim advocacy and legal services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence. Specifically, the Westchester Hispanic Coalition will use the funding to strengthen and enact their Legal Assistance to Victims Grant Program. This program is aimed at developing criminal legal assistance programs for those in need.

“This money is absolutely critical to better protect and help the victims of human trafficking and sexual violence,” said Senator Schumer. “People who have been through such terrible, life-endangering situations don’t just need a safe place to stay, they need comprehensive services that can help them get back on their feet and move forward with confidence. This funding will allow two organizations in Westchester to help these people by providing safe, supportive services to survivors, including providing professional development services so that they may lead stable, productive lives in the future. I have long fought for this kind of funding and will continue to do so in the future.”

“This is an important investment that will help so many people impacted by domestic violence and human trafficking,” said Senator Gillibrand. “With this funding, Westchester County residents will be better prepared to identify and respond to the needs of victims of human trafficking and more domestic violence survivors will be able to get the support and resources they need. I am pleased My Sisters Place and the Westchester Hispanic Coalition will continue to educate the public and provide much needed support services and emergency shelter for survivors of these horrific crimes.”

“My Sisters’ Place is delighted to receive this funding from OVC to enhance the work we have been engaged in for years to support survivors of all forms of human trafficking, and to help those in our community better identify and combat this human rights abuse. As awareness of human trafficking has increased, My Sisters’ Place has seen a significant rise in the number of identified victims each year,” said Karen Cheeks-Lomax, Esq., CEO, My Sisters’ Place. “With this funding, My Sisters’ Place will be able to expand our efforts to combat human trafficking in Westchester County, assisting more victims in seeking safety, self-determination and justice, and increasing training opportunities and collaborative efforts throughout the county. We thank Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand for their continued support of this important issue and the overall work of our agency.”

Authorization of funding for the Office of Violence Against Women was including in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act in 2013. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand were cosponsors of this legislation.