Winnebago County’s only domestic violence shelter today praised legislation put forward by state Sen. Steve Stadelman that helps victims escape abusive situations by giving them up to 60 days to pay initial deposits on gas, electric and water bills.
Under the law, deposits must still be paid but victims have more time to get their finances in order so they can move out.
Many domestic violence victims are forced to stay in dangerous environments because they don’t have the resources to leave.
“This legislation is very beneficial for victims of domestic violence who are fleeing to safety,” said Karen Gill, vice president of operations for Remedies Renewing Lives. “One of the biggest barriers for victims is setting all the pieces in motion, such as coming up with the money for utility deposits, to establish an independent residence.”
Gill said Stadelman’s legislation also helps shelters like Remedies, which has operated at or over capacity all summer.
“The sooner we can transition a victim to her own living arrangement,” she said, “the sooner we can offer a safe place to someone else in need.”
“Giving victims additional time to get their financial affairs in order removes one of the largest hurdles for them moving out on their own. Hopefully now, these victims will be able to move to a safe place faster than ever before,” said Stadelman.
The new act, signed this week by Gov. Bruce Rauner, takes effect Jan. 1, 2016.