Group remains committed to homicide victims' families despite shutdown

Should shutdown continue, however, Project: Cold Case fears for its funding

By Allyson Henning - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Monday marked day 24 of the partial government shutdown -- the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. 

As hundreds of thousands of federal workers remained furloughed or worked without pay on Monday, the effects continued to trickle down, with organizations aimed at serving victims starting to fear for their funding should the shutdown continue. 

Project: Cold Case serves families who have been affected by unsolved homicides. Ryan Backmann, founder and executive director of Project: Cold Case, said the not-for-profit organization counts on reimbursements from a Victims of Crime Act grant -- funding that comes from federal dollars.

"That is not our only funding stream, but it’s two-thirds of our employees (who) are directly impacted, including myself," Backmann said. "Our lead victim advocate -- 100 percent of her salary is covered by that grant. Our rent is covered by that grant. A good portion of my salary is covered by that grant."

Backmann said the Attorney General’s Office alerted him that reimbursement funds would run out by the end of last week and would not be restored until the federal government is up and running again.

Backmann said the shutdown has not yet affected Project: Cold Case.

"Our commitment is to the victims and their families," he said. "I guess, if this thing stretched out too long, it could affect us. But at this point, we are going to keep doing it because that's what we do. That's what we want to do. That is our passion." 

The National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators posted an online statement reading, in part, "The longer the shutdown continues, the more severe the consequences for crime victims will be.”

Project: Cold Case has its annual Year of Hope fundraiser coming up on Jan. 26. The event is open to the public.

Backmann hopes to raise enough money to get the nonprofit through the shutdown. 

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