At today’s Stated Meeting of the New York City Council, the “Support Survivors” legislative package, introduced by Council Member Tiffany Cabán, Chair of the Committee on Women and Gender Equity (W&GE), passed by a vote of 45-6.
In its hearings this session, W&GE has heard from scores of courageous survivors, who have told the committee their painful stories and urged the Council to take action to meet their needs. Again and again, they have identified economic support and a comprehensive guide to available services as key ways the Council can make New York a more supportive city for survivors. This package delivers on those pleas as Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to an end.
Domestic violence is by far the biggest cause of New Yorkers entering the DHS shelter system (Housing Survivors How New York City Can Increase Housing Stability for Survivors of Domestic Violence, Comptroller, 2019). While there are many great resources in the City, there are few that trust survivors of violence to know exactly what they need, and equip them with the funds to make decisions in their best interest. This package consists of three items related to services for survivors of violence, particularly domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence:
- Int 0153-2022 (introduced along with CMs Hanif, Louis, Ayala, Ung, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams) will establish a program of low-barrier, broad-use, urgently accessible grants for survivors.
- Int 0154-2022 (introduced along with CMs Riley, Louis, Ayala, Ung, and PA Williams) will expand the HOPE portal and establish a new printed guide of resources where the many city- and CBO-provided survivor services are aggregated – and translated into the major languages, including braille – for easy access.
- Res 0111-2022 (introduced along with PA Williams) calls on Albany to provide paid leave for survivors, ideally as a stepping stone to universal paid leave.
“It’s time we did right by survivors,” said Council Member Tiffany Cabán. “Along with my colleagues, I am committed to removing the barriers to accessing services that the Committee on Women and Gender Equity has found survivors face, as well as proactively establishing the programs that survivors say they need. The ‘Support Survivors’ legislative package is a bold step toward a city where survivors of violence can find healing, growth, and safety. For too long, this city has cynically used survivors’ trauma and pain merely as a pretext to ramp up policing, prosecution, and incarceration, leaving the actual survivors without access to the services and protections they need. No more.”
“The Supporting Survivors package passed today by the first women-majority Council is an incredibly powerful step toward intersectional justice for women and survivors across the city. As rates of Domestic Violence in the Bronx and across the City continue to grow it is incredibly urgent that our local government acts quickly to support our communities. I am proud to see that the New York City Council is moving our City toward prioritizing the needs of women. As Domestic Violence Awareness month comes to an end we cannot forget how much work we have to do when it comes to supporting the economic development that our survivors not only need, but deserve. I look forward to continuing to fight for more direct resources and investments to help end domestic and gender based violence,” said Council Member Amanda Farías, co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus.
“As a member of the first women majority Council in our City’s history, I couldn’t be prouder that today we are taking action to support survivors of domestic violence,” said Council Member Shahana Hanif. “Last year, there were almost 100,000 reported cases of domestic violence in our City and we simply aren’t doing enough to give survivors the help they need. The Support Survivors package is a monumental, gender-responsive step in providing real City-backed resources to help survivors get back on their feet. Our work is far from over, but this women-led Council is ready to continue fighting.”
“I am proud to stand with my colleagues in a women-led City Council to state unequivocally to survivors of domestic and gender-based violence that we have your back. My colleagues have done more than hear survivors– the bill sponsors of the Support Survivors legislative package have worked collaboratively with survivors to center their experience to craft legislation that will create positive change. I look forward to the passage of these bills which will remove barriers on the road to stability and safety,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera.
“In 2020, over 200,000 domestic violence incidents were reported to the NYPD — and we know that number is just the tip of the iceberg. It is vital that NYC is doing everything in our power to ensure we are not enabling the re-victimization of survivors through a lack of resources, or disparate access to those resources,” said Council Member Jennifer Gutierrez. “I am deeply proud of my colleague Council Member Caban for fighting tirelessness to deliver this critical assistance to survivors.”
“The Support Survivors Legislative Package is a vital step to guaranteeing true justice for our communities when it comes to sexual and intimate partner violence,” said Council Member Crystal Hudson, co-Chair of the LGBTQIA+ Caucus. “The bills in the package, Int. 0153 and Int. 0154, prioritize the care of our neighbors and ensure that survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence have access to the resources that will allow them to heal with the safety and dignity we all deserve. As a community, the CDC reports that queer folks experience sexual violence at higher rates than their straight counterparts. And, within the LGBTQIA+ community, transgender people and bisexual women face the most alarming rates of sexual violence. Put simply, these laws will have an immediate, tangible impact on all communities impacted by sexual and intimate partner violence.”
“As an attorney who has worked with domestic violence survivors, I know how difficult it can be for a person to leave an abusive situation,” said Council Member Sandra Ung. ‘In many cases, a major factor is that they are financially dependent on their abuser. These crucial pieces of legislation will not only provide survivors with the financial help they need to leave their abusers, but make it easier for them to access the services they need as they begin a courageous new chapter in their lives. I want to thank Council Member Tiffany Caban and my co-sponsors on these bills for their advocacy and support on behalf of survivors.”
“Survivors of color face numerous barriers to accessing services. Since the pandemic, our Anti-Violence Program has seen a 40% increase in need and doubling in high-risk cases—cases with a homicidal or suicidal risk. We, alongside our partners, celebrate the passage of the Support Survivors Package. The Package is a major step in ensuring all survivors in NYC have the support they deserve,” said Rawaa Nancy Albilal, President & CEO of the Arab-American Family Support Center.
“For the past 14 years, across Astoria and NYC, we have been organizing on issues of domestic violence and so little has changed. In fact the confluence of the pandemic and the current economic crisis has only made things worse, especially for the working class immigrant women we serve. The Support Survivors Package would radically improve material conditions for survivors and make safety more accessible for them and their families. Especially in the midst of both a housing and economic crisis, survivors need paid leave, more accessible services and financial support. This would allow so many members of our community who are stuck in the cycle and harsh reality of gender violence every day to access support. This would save lives,” said Rana Abdelhamid, Executive Director and Founder, Malikah.
“We are tremendously grateful to Council Member Cabán and each member of the Council that has co-sponsored the Support Survivors Legislative Package, especially Intro 153-A. For too long, domestic violence has been the number one driver of family homelessness in New York City. Most survivors have also endured economic abuse and have been stripped from their social safety nets. Establishing a housing stability program that provides low-barrier grants and support services for survivors will help them avoid shelter entry and foster stability. We urge the Council to pass and Mayor to sign the legislative package and to invest adequate funding,” said Nicole Branca, Executive Director of New Destiny Housing.
“Day One applauds the passage of the Support Survivors act. We are excited that new measures will create and expand pathways to safety for youth seeking to leave abusive relationships. Day One looks forward to working with the Council on more ways to serve young survivors and to address the unique issues they face,” said Andrew Sta. Ana, Director of Law and Policy, Day One.
“As a survivor of domestic violence, these bills are a step in the right direction to getting women and other survivors the services they need. With 93% of women diverted from Rikers having experienced sexual, physical or emotional violence, these measures will also help prevent incarceration and keep families together.” Leah Fair, Senior Community Organizer Women’s Community Justice Association
“The Support Survivors package centers the fact that you cannot separate economic abuse from domestic violence and that the two are interconnected for nearly all survivors. We are glad to see that this package provides survivors and their families with the much needed immediate, low barrier direct financial support that survivors crucially need. As the largest provider of domestic violence services and support in the country, URI is grateful to Councilmember Caban for seeing the bills over the finish line and we look forward to our continuing work together to address and remove the financial barriers to safety and to support healing for survivors of domestic violence,” said Teal Inzunza, Program Director, Economic Empowerment Program at Urban Resource Institute.
“The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault is thrilled by the passage of these survivor-centered bills. In the midst of the trauma COVID-19 brought to New York over the past two and a half years, sexual violence has continued to impact our communities at increasing rates. At the Alliance, we have heard loud and clear from New York City’s rape crisis centers of the need for more collaboration in order to better meet the increasingly complex needs of sexual violence survivors. The service portal and resource guide will be a valuable tool for advocates to make informed referrals and better collaborate in order to support these survivors. We are grateful to Councilmember Cabán and the bill co-sponsors for focusing on the need to support this vulnerable population.” Emily Miles, Executive Director of New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault
“LGBTQ survivors of intimate partner and sexual violence experience higher barriers to safety, support, and services, and the Support Survivors bill package takes steps to make urgent and long-term support more accessible for survivors. At the New York City Anti-Violence Project, 65% of the survivors we support are queer and trans people of color, and many do not want to report incidents to the police” said Audacia Ray (they/she), Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy at the New York City Anti-Violence Project. “The Support Survivors bill package makes it possible for survivors to access grants that can help them navigate the economic consequences of violence which include housing instability, food insecurity, ongoing medical bills, and other expenses for themselves and their children.”