'Cuts would cost lives': Looming deadline threatens to hurt domestic violence shelters
Reporter: Marcelino Benito
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Across the board budget cuts could have a drastic impact on domestic violence shelters right here in Southern Arizona if Congress can't come up with a last minute deal.
Emerge, the largest domestic violence shelter here in Southern Arizona, is bracing for impact.
"It's horrifying to think we might have more cuts," said Sarah Jones, Emerge executive director.
The White House released projections today. If nothing changes and Congress doesn't act, the cuts slash $132,000 from services for domestic violence here in Arizona. Five hundred fewer victims would be served.
"We're hearing it's going to be a lot more severe than that," said Jones. "The cuts would cost lives."
Jones says it's that serious. Emerge has lost about a million dollars in the last few years. They've made it work through creative saving.
"How much more creative can you be?" asked 9OYS reporter Marcelino Benito.
"Not much more, you're right, there's a limit to what we can do," replied Jones.
That's because federal dollars account for 56 percent of their budget. More federal cuts will make it harder to help abused women. It makes it harder to help before it's too late.
"Every time someone reaches out and those services aren't available because of a cut, that's happened like this, every time that happens, someone's at risk," said Jones.
And if Emerge is feeling the economic pinch, Jones says these budget cuts could threaten to force smaller shelters across our area to close their doors. And that could spell trouble for women and children who need help the most.
"There's a lot of real people that will get hurt if Congress can't work together to fix this," Jones said.
On Monday, Congress got nothing to deal with the sequester. They have until Thursday at midnight to get the job done.
Emerge says they have some money to offset those losses, but not nearly enough. The bottom line is people will feel these cuts.