Domestic violence organizations affected by government shutdown

Houston-area non-profit organizations that work with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault are bracing for what could happen if the partial government shutdown continues.

"We are really in jeopardy of not being able to provide the kinds of services that our clients, their lives depend on," said Emilee Dawn Whitehurst, president and chief executive officer of the Houston Area Women’s Center (HAWC).

For HAWC and The Bridge in Pasadena, federal funding make up about 50 percent of their annual budget. They explain that the grants reimburse them for certain expenses.

"Currently, we are over $100,000 dollars in the hole for expenses that we’ve incurred to provide housing,” added Whitehurst.

"After February 1st, if our next set of funding from our government doesn’t come through, then we’ll have to rely on our unrestricted dollars," said Deborah Moseley, executive director of The Bridge. "Which I don’t know if that would be enough to do all the things we have to do? So, we’d have to prioritize? Is it staff? Is it rent?"

Leigh Ann Fry, president and chief executive officer of the Bay Area Turning Point in Webster, said a delay in funding from 2018 has already forced the organization to tap in its reserve funds.

"Early- to mid-February is what we’re looking at to furlough staff," said Fry.

The federal funds are largely used to cover housing and emergency shelter for families trying to get back on their feet. All three organizations said there’s hardly ever an empty bed.

“We have a a 100-bed shelter,” Moseley told FOX 26 News. “We’re always a little over capacity.”

The nonprofits said that they are committed to do whatever it takes keep all of their services going, but domestic abuse survivors at The Bridge say they can’t help but worry.

"It worries me that maybe I might not be able to get housing but my strong faith in God tells me that He will see us through,” said a survivor.

"A conversation here and there will pick up about [the shutdown] and everybody agrees that it’s going to be a struggle,” said Brenda, another survivor.

The leaders of the organizations all hope Congress and The White House can reach a deal before they’ll have to lay off staff or worse.

"Their inability to compromise is putting people’s lives in danger," added Fry.

"Enough to where it could even cost them their lives if they decided to go back to their abusers because they can’t be on the street,” said Moseley.