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"It's a tremendous loss for the community" Crime Victims Assistance Program is closing

Client: "It's just a rotten shame"
Posted at 6:13 PM, Aug 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-23 18:13:02-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It's a program that has helped crime victims receive benefits from the state for nearly 40 years. But at the end of September, it's shutting it's doors. The Crime Victims Assistance Program on Buffalo's East side said its audit was not submitted to the state in time. The organization will not receive it's grant money. Leaders say it's not their fault. The person responsible has been fired.

"It's not our program. Not the program at all. You can fault the agency for not having the audit report completed," said Dennis Mitchell, the program director.

Victims will now be referred to their Albany office for help. There's also two other places crime victims can go: The Erie County DA's office and the Northwest Buffalo Community Center.

"They actually have got cuts in their funding. They don't see how they're going to be able to take on extra victims. They're certainly not going to turn them away," Mitchell said.

But there's another issue - transportation.

"The problem is these victims don't have vehicles. They use buses, a lot of them are disabled. It's tough for them to get around," Mitchell said.

Hundreds of victims will be affected by the program, but Mitchell said the families of homicide victims will be affected the most.

"The families of the homicides... they don't even know what to do," said Mitchell.

They've got no money to bury the person, and the state turns around and gives them funds... It's enough money to bury the person at least," said Thomas Benevict, who's a client and a Crime Victims Assistance worker.

But it also goes beyond money.

"If you've got somebody to talk to it doesn't cure, but it helps relieve you," Benevict said.