In a unanimous vote the Phoenix City Council approved a plan that would give emergency funding to a Valley domestic violence shelter and create a plan for a more long-term solution.
The city of Phoenix will put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to Valley domestic violence shelters by Jan. 2. In March of 2013 one shelter that can use the funds most efficiently will be awarded $200,000.
The city will also be working with the Sandra Day O’Connor House to identify needs, improvements and barriers to addressing domestic violence in Phoenix.
City Councilman Sal DiCiccio of Ahwatukee Foothills was one of the council members especially pushing this item forward. He said while the funding is much needed it’s the long-term plan that’s most important. The long-term plan will address legislative improvements, Phoenix’s internal operations, available funding sources, and create awareness.
“We’re working hand-in-hand with the O’Connor House,” DiCiccio said. “The O’Connor House is going to come back to us with some direction within 30 to 60 days. They’re going to look at three levels: short term, mid term and long term, what to do to create a stable environment for these shelters, and the issue itself… It’s important to not have us create it but have someone who deals with this day in and day out help us put it together to make it work. When we’re done with this I think it’s something the city of Phoenix will be very proud of.”
DiCiccio said he expects there will be a deputy city manager working hand-in-hand with the O’Connor House as a plan is created.
The original plan put forth by DiCiccio, Councilwoman Thelda Williams and Councilman Michael Nowakowski was to provide $100,000 in emergency funding immediately to the Sojourner Center, which has recently shuttered 80 beds due to an unexpected funding loss.
A city subcommittee voted 2-2 on that funding, which is why it was sent to the full City Council. After that subcommittee meeting the Sojourner Center asked the city to pull the item and work with them on an RFP process. The RFP will go out to all Phoenix domestic violence shelters.
Some residents spoke up during the council’s formal meeting on Wednesday, saying it was wrong for the city to award public funds to private organizations. Council members said these funds would be going to provide a public service that the city cannot provide.
“Domestic violence is a very complex issue,” said Councilwoman Williams. “It is one that crosses all ethnic groups and income levels. It is on every street in this city. Therefore it impacts this city, whether it is the police officer taking the call, the firemen responding, the neighborhood services that have to go out. The city of Phoenix, I suppose, could provide domestic violence services but I don’t think that is our expertise. That is where we go to the nonprofit community. They are the experts… I think our investment, when we do an RFP process for a community nonprofit service that handles a city problem, it benefits the general public and saves us dollars in the long run.”
All council members agreed domestic violence must be a focus for the city. One in four women is affected by domestic violence and one in five teenagers will experience domestic violence while dating. Domestic violence is also the single largest call the police department responds to.
The deadline for emergency funding to be awarded will be March 1, 2013. The O’Connor House will return to the council with further ideas in the next 30 to 60 days.
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