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U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a survivor of domestic violence, and Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03) sent a letter to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds to request funding for domestic violence programs in Iowa be distributed quickly, and to urge the use of federal funding to ensure survivors have safe housing options.

In their letter, the members cite the heightened danger that the COVID-19 pandemic poses to survivors of domestic violence, especially children that lack access to school or child care programs, in requesting additional resources to protect this vulnerable population.

“We have heard from service providers across Iowa that the pandemic is intensifying the needs of survivors of domestic violence,” the members wrote. “We request that as Iowa receives funding, grants, and other federal assistance that will support our domestic violence programs, you will ensure this money is provided quickly in order to ensure Iowans get the assistance they desperately need.”

Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children, and the letter urges the Governor to use funding included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to ensure that families do not lose access to housing.

“Addressing housing instability and homelessness is a key aspect of an effective pandemic response, and it especially helps domestic violence survivors,” the members wrote. “The flexibility in the CARES Act specifically allows…traditional federal housing assistance funds, to be used to provide emergency shelter, or rental, mortgage, or utility assistance to help keep individuals housed.”

In addition to $45 million in support for grants through the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, the CARES Act also includes $4 billion for Emergency Solutions Grants, $5 billion for Community Development Block Grants, and $150 billion for a newly created Coronavirus Relief Fund. In their letter, the members urge the use of all of these funding sources to protect Iowans and provide survivors with critical assistance as quickly as possible.

Read the full letter here.