Marjaree Mason Center avoids funding losses

Fresno City Council allocates funds to the local domestic violence shelter, which uses the funds to provide safe housing, counseling and emergency support to survivors

A look at the upcoming Community Resource Building that is posted on the Marjaree Mason Center website, which will be located 255 W. Bullard Ave. (Marjoree Mason Center website)
Mid Valley Times Staff
Published July 3, 2024  • 
9:00 am

FRESNO – Massive cuts to the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Crime Victims Fund this year threatened vital support for millions of Americans after experiencing crimes caused against them. Thankfully for Fresno, the Marjaree Mason Center avoided these cuts and is able to continue its mission of helping victims of crime heal and rebuild their lives.

The Fresno City Council took action by advancing a budget motion, which allocated $300,000 to address funding shortfalls due to the cuts to VOCA as well as other funding gaps in domestic violence emergency response and safe housing programs. Without adequate funding, the city council knew that these programs were at risk.

As the only domestic violence shelter and supportive services agency in Fresno County, Marjaree Mason Center stands as a crucial resource that provides 24/7 crisis support and emergency shelter. Fresno has the highest per capita calls to law enforcement for domestic violence among California’s 10 most populated counties. The City of Fresno, specifically, has seen a troubling rise in domestic violence cases since the onset of the COVID pandemic, straining local resources and highlighting the urgent need for consistent funding. 

Without these funding allocations, survivors faced reduced access to safe housing, longer wait times for counseling and diminished emergency support during their most vulnerable moments.

The allocation of this funding, both at the state and local level, means that when survivors call the Marjaree Mason Center’s 24/7 crisis hotline, there will be an advocate on the other end to answer and that survivors will be able to access shelter when they must flee from violence. 

Though there are additional budget concerns to help meet the increased need for services, this funding ensures that the Marjaree Mason Center services can continue to operate at a consistent capacity. 

Cuts to the VOCA Crime Victims Fund will be felt more on the state level. The California Office of Emergency Services disburses funds from the federal VOCA Crime Victims Fund for an array of critical services and programs that support Californians after they have experienced a crime which includes domestic violence service providers, Rape Crisis Centers, legal assistance, human trafficking services, a range of options to address survivor homelessness and other vital services. 

The proposed allocation of $1.2 billion in the President’s fiscal year 2024 budget and the fiscal year 2024 House and Senate appropriations bills is a 40% cut to the CVF funding, compared to the fiscal year 2023.

In a recent survey administered by the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence and ValorUS® (the California state coalition for sexual violence agencies), 89 California-based sexual and domestic violence organizations were projecting disastrous consequences resulting from the impeding decline in funding. 

As a result of efforts from hundreds of advocates and survivors urging California to step up, a final budget agreement was reached between Governor Gavin Newsom and the Legislature including $103 million in one-time, backfill funding for victims’ services programs on June 22.

Mid Valley Times Staff