Time has run out for The Family Justice Center of Hillsborough County.
"This community was really a leader and now we are stepping backwards. It really is difficult to have this happen," said executive director Nikki Daniels.
The center needed $170,000 to stay open, but help didn't arrive in time.
"I see what we do in the community. I see the value we bring to people. This is heartbreaking," she said.
For seven years, the center has done it all: they've helped with everything from legal and financial issues, to housing, clothes and food for survivors of domestic abuse.
Survivors like "Ruth," who said she wouldn't be here today without the help.
"I have no idea what I would have done. I don't know what resources I would have used," she said.
The Family Justice Center put out a plea for help, after one of its biggest donors, The Children's Board of Hillsborough County, cut its contribution in half.
Daniels attended a county commission meeting Wednesday morning for a last chance of hope, but was disappointed with the results. She said her group wasn't acknowledged.
"I know that our victims of domestic violence don't always feel like they have a voice, and today they didn't," she said.
Commissioners said they need more time. They are waiting on a report from the County administrator before making a final decision.
"This is a critically important service provided by Hillsborough County, but we also owe it to our taxpayers to make sure we are prudent with our tax dollars, and that is what we are doing," said Commissioner Ken Hagan.
They will have an answer by the end of August. But Daniels says it is already too late.
"This community has invested $8 million in the Family Justice Center over the years. It just does not make financial sense to lose it over $170,000," Daniels said.
Reality is setting in that this maybe the end.
"I'm going to really feel like we've turned our back on the community and we haven't. It really is not any of our faults," said Sylvia Alvarez, the director of the Housing and Education Alliance.
The county will now refer domestic violence survivors to the Springs of Hillsborough County.
"The clock is really ticking and it is going really fast," Alvarez said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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