April 13, 2024

St. Louis County budget cuts hurting domestic violence org

Five organizations were expecting to receive ARPA funds from St. Louis County.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Winter is always a dark time for domestic violence organizations and their clients as situations ramp up and one group in St. Louis County now has to pick up the pieces from a broken promise. 

“Right now it’s cold. We were struggling to get two women into housing yesterday and we know the temperatures dropped last night. It was a little bit of a struggle for us,” Cynthia Bennett, the founder of Journey Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse (JADSA) said.

Bennett’s non-profit organization which was started in 2002 relies on fundraising and dollars from the federal government to help those in abusive situations and their families. 

However, they got an unexpected correspondence that changed the trajectory of how they planned to start the year to offer services and hope to more people.

“That’s what we are struggling with right now to get what we were promised to us which we were expected to utilize to assist women.”

She referred to a letter sent out in September signed by St. Louis County Executive Sam Page saying her organization would be receiving $25,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

In December, they received another letter saying the funds had been frozen due to cuts to the County’s Budget — totaling around 15 million dollars. “Without any increase in revenues for the continued operation of essential County services.”

RELATED: St. Louis County Council passes $14M in cuts to 2024 budget

“As a result of these cuts, we are placing ARPA-funded projects with the exception of public safety on hold until we determine we have appropriate staff to administer these projects in compliance with Treasury Guidelines.”

Bennett said they were not the only ones concerned about the unfulfilled promise.

“Of course we have a lot of the council members who are backing the organizations who were supposed to receive that money. They are asking what’s the hold up?”

The advocate wants those in power to know the people on the receiving end of her work are essential too.

“We need them to put a bigger premium in dealing with humanistic issues,” she said. 

About $1.1 million was supposed to reach five different organizations, including JADASA.

The County Executive’s office stated they would review the situation.

 A request was put into Page’s office to learn more about the sudden funding cut on Saturday, but 5 On Your Side is still waiting for a response.

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