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Governor, First Partner Announce Expanded Support For Domestic Violence Victims

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Gov. Gavin Newsom and First Partner Siebel Newsom announced on Friday expanded capacity for Text 911 throughout the state and additional funding to further support victims of domestic violence.

Newsom announced that the "text-to-911" capability has been rolled out throughout the state. The service allows individuals to text '911' in emergency situations. Newsom said that 75 percent of the state's population, including almost every major metropolitan area, has access to the service.

"Text 911 is a critical tool that will help keep all Californians safe, including victims of domestic violence," said Gov. Newsom. "These initiatives and additional funding will provide much-needed support to those whose homes are not the safe place they should be."

Gov. Newsom also said that Cal OES is working on enabling the service at all public safety answering points across California, which would allow 911 dispatchers to text a caller back if a call is disconnected. The governor said these moves were made available through the 2019-20 budget.

According to a press release from the governor's office, the state is "directing $5.3 million in existing Victims of Crime Act funds to three coalitions to support efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic," including $3 million to California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, $1.6 million to California Coalition on Sexual Assault and $721,337 directed to Children's Advocacy Centers of California. The funds will then be distributed to local victim service providers, officials said.

"We must continue to look at the impacts of COVID-19 through a gendered lens, including the tragic increase in domestic violence incidents since the crisis began," said First Partner Newsom. "I am proud that California is stepping up to support all victims and survivors, and we must continue to do more to end violence against women, and domestic violence more broadly."

The governor's office said the Women's Foundation of California is working with the state to raise private funds to support domestic violence organizations and strengthen organizations centering on gender in the state's economic recovery plan. Officials said the foundation has already raised $3 million and that the funds have already been directed to 130 domestic violence shelter organizations. By the end of the year, the foundation is aiming to raise an additional $42 million.

"A gender justice approach needs to be at the forefront of our response not only to this current crisis but to the longstanding challenges of inequality that persist in California,'' said Surina Khan, Women's Foundation California CEO. "This first-of-its-kind fund will bolster the immediate and direct services needed to provide relief while also advancing the kind of meaningful policy shifts that Women's Foundation California is known for - policies that support resilience and equity across racial, economic, and gender lines."

According to the governor's office. there has been a higher number of calls and reports of domestic violence in California since the outbreak of the coronavirus and the issuance of the stay-at-home orders.

The state also announced new partnerships with Airbnb and Uber to provide free accommodation and transportation to domestic violence victims. Uber is initially offering 3,000 free rides in Los Angeles and San Francisco to transport victims to safety during the pandemic with plans to offer additional free rides statewide. Victims in Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles will also have access to no-cost accommodations with Airbnb for up to 30 days.

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