LOGAN – Thanks to recent changes in state laws, the local Citizens Against Physical and Sexual Abuse (CAPSA) organization now qualifies for homeless shelter funding.
On Aug. 3, the Logan City Council approved the first of two $25,000 appropriations requested by Mayor Holly Daines to help defray the cost of homeless services provided by CAPSA to city residents.
“The largest homeless population in our community are victims of domestic violence,” said CAPSA executive director Jill Anderson, explaining why the appropriation of those funds was justified.
“That’s not to minimize the unmet needs of the general homeless population,” she added. “But by meeting the needs of those who are homeless due to domestic violence, we’re still having a significant impact.”
Daines explained that Utah mandates that cities that do not operate homeless shelters allocate a small slice of their sales tax revenues to the statewide law enforcement cost of homeless services.
CAPSA is a non-profit domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape recovery center serving Logan and the Cache County area. Since CAPSA’s support and services are targeted to those victims rather than the general homeless population, the organization did not qualify as a state-recognized homeless shelter until recently.
With those changes to state law, however, the city of Logan is now able to earmark about half of its sales tax revenues that normally go to the state for homeless services to CAPSA.
Anderson said those funds are needed because local demand for CAPSA’s support and services has increased dramatically since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in spring of 2020.
“During the past year, domestic violence has been called the shadow pandemic,” Anderson explained.
“The tactics that abusers typically use to control their victims include isolation from family and friends, monitoring activities and movements, controlling by limiting resources and strict rules of behavior. Recently, many of us viewed those behaviors as commendable ways to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe during the pandemic.
“But for families experiencing domestic violence, those were ways for abusers to escalate their control over their victims.”
When the pandemic broke out, Anderson said that CAPSA’s staff anticipated that they would experience an increased demand for their services just as other advocacy groups across the country had faced during previous natural disasters and other crises. But they were unprepared for that the full impact of what resulted.
Prior to that time, local demand for CAPSA’s services had grown gradually over the organization’s 45-year history. From a small, all-volunteer group called the Cache Valley Rape Crisis Team, the organization had evolved into a professional one with 57 permanent staff-members.
Still, five years ago, CAPSA served only 568 individuals and provided 342 domestic abuse prevention presentations to about 6,000 participants annually.
“When the pandemic first hit in March, April and May of 2020,” Anderson recalled, “we saw an overnight 112 percent increase in the number of calls coming into our crisis line.
“We had systems and procedures set up to deal with about 1,200 calls per quarter. But we’re now handling more than 2,500 calls per quarter.
“When you think about the typical business,” she added, “you’d think that it would be exciting to have a 112 percent increase in activity overnight. That means more revenue for an average business. That means additional resources, more supplies and new employees.
“But for CAPSA, it meant just the opposite. We can’t fund things now the way we used to. We have more expenses. We can’t hire more staff.”
In 2020, CAPSA served 1,658 individuals and provided 747 domestic abuse prevention presentations to about 14,000 participants annually.
“But we’re happy to be here to help,” Anderson emphasizes, adding that she is proud of CAPSA’s response to that crisis. “We’re also grateful for the city’s support to do that.”