Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice Announces “We Are Survivors” Campaign That Will Provide $100,000 Directly to Victims, Demands Local Leaders Match Investment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 14, 2021
CONTACT: Californians for Safety and Justice; [email protected]
OAKLAND, Calif. – As California reopens and grapples with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic — particularly a rise in violence spurred by the worsened economic and social circumstances of the past year — thousands of crime survivors across the state demanded on Wednesday that cities and counties make immediate investments in direct cash assistance to crime victims and their families, especially survivors in those communities most impacted by violence and harm.
Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ), the largest organization of crime victims in California, with over 10,000 members who have survived crime and violence, also announced on Wednesday a new “We Are Survivors” grant program that will put money directly in the hands of survivors in desperate need of support and services to help them heal from their trauma. As part of the campaign, CSSJ is demanding that city councils and boards of supervisors across the state use some of the hundreds of millions of dollars flowing to local governments as part of the American Rescue Plan for direct cash assistance to survivors that matches or exceeds the $100,000 CSSJ is awarding to leading, community-based survivor-led organizations up and down the state.
“The justice system has and is failing to meet the needs of victims from Black, Brown and other underserved communities, who comprise the majority of California’s survivors of crime and violence,” said Tina Rodriguez, California state director for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “Instead of continuing to be ignored by a criminal justice system that was never built to help those who need it the most, we’re going to increase safety and wellness in our communities by making sure survivors get the support they need. It is crucial that survivor-led organizations are able to provide direct, local, community-based support that is divorced from law enforcement offices.”
The $100,000 will be dispersed to eight different organizations chosen because they are led by survivors of crime and have a documented successful history of providing direct assistance to vulnerable populations in need. The recipient organizations will then provide resources directly to victims who have experienced violence including sexual assault, domestic violence, gun violence and more. Support will extend to surviving family members and/or individuals who have been directly impacted by an incident like a neighbor or member of the household. The money can be used for things like funeral and burial costs, home or vehicle modifications for victims who become disabled, medical treatment, mental health services and other things key to ensuring a survivor can heal.
The grant recipients are:
- Life After Uncivil Ruthless Acts (L.A.U.R.A.), which supports survivors of violence in South Central Los Angeles
- Champions in Service, which provides wrap around services to people in the greater Los Angeles area who have been marginalized by poverty, drug addiction and trauma
- Take a Stand in Fresno, Calif., which does community outreach aimed at eradicating violence by empowering individuals and families and providing alternatives to at-risk youth
- Kelly’s Angels Foundation in Stockton, Calif., which provides services for children impacted by homicide
- Community Youth Center of San Francisco, which encourages diverse populations of high need young people to succeed
- Us 4 Us Bay Area, which uplifts people through community action and violence prevention based on knowledge of self-resources and mentorship
- Broken by Violence in the East San Francisco Bay Area, which provides an array of support services to people impacted by violence
- Jr.’s Trauma Care Initiative in San Diego, which helps people impacted by violence regain purpose in their lives and treatment for traumatic experiences.
The grantee organizations have begun distributing funds to those in need, and will continue through the summer. In some of the first support extended through the We Are Survivors program, Take A Stand in Fresno enabled Regina Williams of Fresno, whose son was killed in a shooting earlier this month, to get away for a few days to grieve and begin to heal.
“Survivors from communities most harmed and least helped know best what can make our families and our communities safer,” said Janice Sumler, the founder and director of Take a Stand. “We are proud and grateful to participate in this groundbreaking initiative that will help make sure people with the greatest need, like Regina and her family, get the healing and support they deserve.”
According to a 2019 statewide survey of survivors of crime, about one in three Californians have been a victim of crime in the last 10 years. Of those victims, less than one in five report receiving financial assistance, counseling, medical assistance or other types of healing services that can help someone recover from the trauma of a crime. Only 14 percent of crime victims feel “very supported” by the criminal justice system after experiencing a crime, according to the survey.
“Crime survivors in California – particularly those from communities that are most harmed by violence but least helped – are in crisis,” said Tinisch Hollins, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “For the past year, we have endured new and huge barriers to support as well as a national uptick in certain kinds of crime, compounding the effects of decades of failure to advance real safety solutions in poor communities and communities of color. But California has an opportunity now to right the wrongs the system has created and to listen to all survivors, trust the people who are most harmed, and respond directly to survivors’ needs.”