County Executive Signs Safety Measures for Survivors of Domestic Violence Act

In an ongoing effort to protect victims and survivors of domestic and gender-based violence, Westchester County Executive George Latimer signed the Safety Measures for Survivors of Domestic Violence Act last month. Together with members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators in the rotunda, Latimer signed the Act which will provide free lock changes and the installation of a video doorbell at a domestic violence survivor’s home.

 Latimer said: “Victims of domestic and gender-based violence have been forced to vacate the home that they and their children live in because the home is no longer safe. While we as a County do what we can to make sure that everyone has a safe place to go, this legislation provides for safety measures so that vulnerable survivors have the ability to stay in their homes if they so choose, allowing them to maintain their ties and rebuild their lives in their own communities.”

 Under the Act, the Westchester County Office for Women will contract with designated community-based organizations to do the following:

· Conduct intake with survivors to determine program eligibility

· Coordinate with licensed vendors regarding the installation of the dwelling safety measures

· Conduct an education and outreach program

 Chairman Vedat Gashi, District 4 representing New Castle, Somers Yorktown, and parts of Ossining said: “In Westchester County, we are always working to find ways to help our most vulnerable residents. I am proud of the great strides this program will make toward ensuring the protection and safety of victims of domestic violence. Thank you Legislators David Imamura and Emiljana Ulaj for your tremendous work on this legislation and thank you County Executive George Latimer for your efforts to address this issue and for signing this important piece of legislation into law.”

Legislator David Imamura, District 12 representing Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Edgemont, Hartsdale, Hastings-on-Hudson, and Irvington said: “Domestic violence in all of its forms is completely unacceptable. Today, Westchester takes needed steps towards ensuring the safety of domestic violence victims by providing them with free lock changes and ring cameras. Your safety should not be at the sufferance of your landlord, nor should the ability to pay prevent you from protecting your family. I am proud to have sponsored this bill and am proud to have joined with my colleagues and with County Executive George Latimer in making this program a reality.”

Legislator Emiljana Ulaj, District 9 representing Cortlandt, Ossining, Croton, Briarcliff, and Buchanan said: “Everyone deserves to feel safe in their home, but what happens when your abuser has the key to the front door? This initiative will be an invaluable help to domestic violence survivors and their families. It’s a great day when we can do something this substantial to help some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Thank you to the bill Sponsor Legislator David Imamura, the County Office of Women, and the Pace Women’s Justice Center for all of their work and advocacy on this legislation. Thank you also to County Executive George Latimer and Board Chair Vedat Gashi for their wholehearted support of the proposal and figuring out the logistics to make the program work.” 

 Office for Women Director Robi Schlaff said: “This program is an extraordinary component of what we do in Westchester to protect families from violence and care for them when that happens. I want to thank County Executive George Latimer and the Board of Legislators for your attention to family violence, and for showing compassion and sensitivity to these families. This is a practical, constructive, and effective way to alleviate the turmoil resulting from domestic violence.”

 Pace Women’s Justice Center Executive Director Cindy Kanusher said: “The Pace Women’s Justice Center is so grateful to our County Executive and our County Legislators for their continued support of victims of domestic violence. Through our work providing free legal services to thousands of survivors annually, we know that victims face numerous challenges that prevent them from leaving an abusive relationship. The program established by this law, which will pay for lock changes and the installation of security camera systems, will give survivors the opportunity to remain safely in their homes and rebuild their lives. It will be an invaluable resource for so many in our community.”

 Westchester Women’s Bar Association Immediate Past-President Amanda Rieben, Esq. said: “As a long-time advocate for domestic violence victims, this is an important measure to help ensure the safety of victims and their families. When a victim leaves an abusive relationship they face numerous challenges, including the ability to establish a safe living environment for themselves and their children. This legislation will provide victims with the necessary resources to change their locks and install security cameras, important measures which promote and assist them in keeping their families safe.”