D.C. launches hotline to connect crime victims with services

WASHINGTON — Crime victims in the nation’s capital have a new resource — a 24-hour, multilingual hotline that connects them with support services.

The D.C. Victim Hotline was officially launched Wednesday, but it’s been quietly operating for the past six months and has already received more than 125 calls by victims of both violent and nonviolent crime.

“They may be calling for assistance with emergency housing, shelter, accessing medical services, accessing legal services,” says Victoria Hougham, director of victim’s services.

Those who call the hotline will speak to trained victim-assistance specialists who can help them address physical, financial, legal and emotional problems. It’s available through voice calls, text messages and online chats.

The hotline is a program of the National Center for Victims of Crime and is being funded by the Mayor’s Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants. As the city council proceeds through the budget process, D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie says the funding will stay secure.

“The council is committed to ensuring this service still exists. We want to support victims on their path to healing,” McDuffie says.

Trained hotline calltakers work with local nonprofits and shelters and have visited them on site to have a personal understanding of the facilities they are recommending and what would be the best resource for victims in need, Hougham says.

“Our goal in the next six months is to find resources for victims who don’t have an obvious place to go, like a domestic violence shelter,” Hougham says, referencing victims of elder abuse or financial crimes.

Ads running on Metro bus and rail as well as in D.C. taxis strengthen the center’s effort to get the word out about the hotline to different communities.

The number for the hotline is 1-844-4HELPDC, or 1-844-443-5732.

 The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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