Survivors push for bills to prevent Ohioans hurt by violent crime from losing housing or jobs
People whose lives have been affected by violent crime converged on the Ohio Statehouse Wednesday to advocate for legislation they say will improve their lives.
Members of the group Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ) said they are thankful for recently passed legislation that removes barriers for crime survivors to access public funds meant to help victims of violence. And the advocates at the event said new trauma recovery centers that have been established in some communities across the state are working to help connect survivors with counseling and other important services. The advocates said they would like to see those expanded to more communities in the future. And while the survivors said the state is doing a lot of things right, there are areas where Ohio could and should do more to make sure survivors of crime are not re-victimized as a result of their situations.
Dyesha Darby, the statewide manager for CSSJ, said Ohio needs a law to provide job protections for crime survivors. She said more than two dozen other states currently have laws like that on their books.
“And so here in Ohio we are hoping to get some policies in place that if a survivor is victimized, they are able to take off from work due to violent crimes without any penalty or punishment," Darby said.
Survivor Elise Bradley said more needs to be done to protect housing. She said people who have been victimized by crime can end up losing their housing as a result.
"If there was something that went on at the house that maybe caused a situation where housing might be lost, it just happens, right. Violence happens in a situation and landlords have things they have to do," Bradley said.
Bills to protect housing and to pay crime survivors for lost pay have not yet been introduced. But the advocates say many lawmakers have been meeting with them about the issue. And they said much of the time, that support has been bipartisan. Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) and Rep. Brett Hillyer (R-Urichsville) were on hand to be part of this ceremony held in the Statehouse atrium. Attendees chanted, lifted their voices in song and lit candles in honor of Ohioans whose lives have been forever changed by criminal activity.
"I'm excited that survivors of crimes have voices. Often times, most communities that are most harmed by crime and repeated cycles of victimization don't have the services they need. And so now, we hope the legislators hear that we need more policies to reflect more of our survivors," Darby said.