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The City of Austin wants to create trauma recovery centers for victims of violence. Here's what that would look like

The goal is to properly treat trauma in victims so they are less likely to commit violence themselves or become revictimized.

AUSTIN, Texas — Victims of violent crime and their family members could soon get free help from trauma recovery centers. 

"Our community has been through a lot," said Councilmember Vanessa Fuentes

Mental health and public safety are significant conversations for the upcoming budget. Part of that would include trauma recovery centers to help victims of crime and their family members.

"We're talking about individuals who have had a gunshot wound or have experienced sexual assault, human trafficking, hate crimes, or have had someone in their life, a loved one, either killed or be assaulted," said Fuentes. 

Fuentes is leading the push to create the centers, along with the Alliance for Safety and Justice and Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice.

The centers would have trauma counseling, social workers, legal assistance and more. The best part is it would be free. 

"It would have helped my family to start to progress much sooner," said Jill Henderson.

Henderson's son, 22-year-old college grad Bakari Henderson, was murdered while visiting Greece in 2017. Soon after, legal fees piled up for the Austin family and getting appropriate therapy to fight the battle was too expensive. 

"To actually get the amount of therapy that we felt was sufficient, our church helped offset the cost of that," said Henderson. 

So she, too, is pushing to get these centers open. 

"By having a trauma recovery center, we are more likely to increase reporting of crime, we are more likely to decrease the likelihood of victimization, to decrease homelessness and to increase access to health care and supportive services," said Fuentes. 

Fuentes said these centers would be located in the areas that need them the most. 

Fuentes said running the centers would cost about $1 million a year. They hope Travis County will help with funding.

"The City would put half, the County would put the other half," said Fuentes. "And so we, through our own budget process, we will be able to contribute either by fully funding the first year or by providing funding for both years one and two."

In March, the city council approved $1 million in startup costs for the next two fiscal years for the centers.

The City is actively talking to different hospital systems and foundations to look at sustainable funding in the future.

The city council is slated to vote on the budget as early as Aug. 17.

So far, these facilities are only in eight states and this could be the first in Texas.

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