ALBANY - The New York State Office of Victim Services on Thursday announced millions of dollars in grants to fund civil legal services for crime victims, as well as the launch of a website to help crime victims find information and free legal assistance.

Awards in our region to fund lawyers to represent crime victims in civil legal issues were as follows:

Safe Homes of Orange County: $399,447

Ulster County: $257,769

Family Services Inc., Dutchess County: $335,639

Grace Smith House, Dutchess County: $142,312

Over the years, said Elizabeth Cronin, director of the state Office of Victim Services, “one of the real critical issues for crime victims is to find civil legal help.”

This was something she saw in her prior career as a special victims prosecutor in Westchester County: people in need of a lawyer to help them with issues around housing, child custody, divorce, immigration, etc. “With some exceptions, people are not good at being their own attorneys,” Cronin said, and poor people are disproportionately forced to act as their own advocates in these high-stakes civil cases.

Victim Services and Gov. Andrew Cuomo saw a need to go beyond the traditional focus of victim services, Cronin said.

New York secured federal funds for the initiatives, unveiling the online site at crimevictimshelpny.org and announcing nearly $16 million to fund the legal assistance at 61 programs across the state.

The website was funded with a $1.5 million grant and developed by OVC, the Empire Justice Center, Pro Bono Net and the University at Albany’s Center for Human Services Research.

All of the funding came from the federal Office for Victims of Crime.