Image Source: Observer-dispatch
The New York State Department of State has launched a new online application for the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP).
The ACP, which was announced on Tuesday November 17, 2020, by the Secretary of State, Rossana Rosado, who oversees the program.
According to him, the initiative is aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence, stalking, sexual offenses and human trafficking from their perpetrators by getting a new undisclosed address.
He stated that the online application will facilitate a swift and secure enrollment into the program for individuals who previously could only apply for the program via mail or fax.
“The ACP is available to assist individuals who are trying to rebuild their lives after experiencing a violent situation that put them in harm’s way,” Rosado said in a statement.
The application facilitates a swift and secure enrollment to get an undisclosed address to individuals in need of a safe domicile marks one-year anniversary of legislation allowing victims of stalking, sexual offenses and human trafficking to participate in program
He noted that the program, which currently serves approximately 3,200 people, is a free state program that allows victims to keep their physical address hidden from their perpetrators by using a substitute mailing address provided by the Department of State in lieu of their actual home, school or work address.
“In New York, we help protect our most vulnerable from violent situations that can endanger them and their families,” he stated.
“The online application for the Address Confidentiality Program will make it faster and easier for thousands of New Yorkers in threatening situations to get protection from their perpetrators and help save lives,” he added.
OTDA Commissioner Mike Hein, who lauded the initiative, said, “Survivors of human trafficking should never have to live with the fear that their perpetrator may one day identify where they reside.”
He added that the Address Confidentiality Program gives victims confidence that they won’t put themselves at risk when providing their mailing address.
“This added layer of security will help more survivors step out of the shadow of fear cast by their traffickers and onto the path toward lasting stability,” he said.
While also commending the initiative, New York State Office for Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin stated that New York State’s Address Confidentiality Program is an important tool for crime victims who are seeking a sense of safety and peace.
“I want to thank the Department of State for streamlining the application process and making this tool more accessible to victims, and the advocates helping them, as they work to secure safe housing.
“It is especially critical that we eliminate the requirement that these forms be printed and mailed or faxed, so applications for this program can be processed electronically during the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Cronin said.
New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Executive Director Kelli Owen also commended the program.
“New York State’s Address Confidentiality Program is key to enabling survivors to break free from abusers, many of whom become most dangerous when survivors leave,” Owen said.
The addition of online enrollment streamlines the process and assists survivors working to stay safe and rebuild their lives.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created additional challenges for survivors seeking services, and this welcomed change removes a hurdle to access and helps domestic violence services in New York State become even more survivor-centered.